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More Bills Moving Through The General Assembly

The legislation passed 79-13 after a lengthy debate and now goes to the Senate.

One key section would allow Museum Plaza developers to recover part a "bed tax" from a proposed hotel to offset related public improvements such as a new floodwall.

The planned 61-story skyscraper would be Louisville's tallest building, and its occupants would include a contemporary art museum and a hotel. Construction is set to begin later this year and be completed by 2010.

"It will be, without a doubt, one of the marvels of the United States," said Rep. Larry Clark, a Louisville Democrat.

The bill also would allow other Kentucky communities to take advantage of tax increment financing, a popular economic-development tool. Qualified investors could recoup money from various taxes to help offset construction costs. The measure also would create more oversight by forming a commission to review such projects.
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The legislation is House Bill 549.

Reacting to the murder of a social worker last year, the House approved legislation Thursday to protect other
state employees responsible for oversight of abused and neglected children.

The measure, approved on a 98-0 vote, provides $4.8 million in funding to hire an additional 108 social workers and aides and to open 15 centers around the state for where biological parents can visit with their children who have been removed from their homes.

Another key provision would equip all state social workers with two-way radios equipped with panic buttons to alert authorities when they're in danger.

State Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, said the legislation, dubbed the Boni Bill in honor of slain social worker Boni Frederick of Henderson, will provide important protections for social workers and allow them to avoid dangerous situations.

"It will cut down their case loads so that they can effectively deal with clients," Burch said.
Under the proposal, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services would set up sites where biological parents could visit their children.

The legislation stemmed from last year's death of Frederick, who was stabbed and beaten when she took an infant boy to his mother's house for a visit in Henderson in western Kentucky last October.

The original bill, backed by Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration, called for about $20 million over the next 16 months to add more than 300 social services staffers, including 225 social workers, to the state payroll.
State Rep. Jimmy Lee, D-Elizabethtown, said $2.3 million in additional funding added to the bill on Thursday will allow the state agency to hire 76 more social workers, 27 social worker aides and five clerks.

"I believe if we had done this a long time ago, maybe Boni Frederick would not have been out there by herself," Burch said.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who put together a task force to recommend safety improvements for social workers, said the bill is "a step in the right direction."

Burch said he believes the measure will be approved soon by the Senate.

"If there's a dissenting vote in the Senate," he said. "I'd be very surprised."
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The legislation is House Bill 362.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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