2012 Legislature passes halfway point

Just three of the more than 600 bills filed have been signed into law, and all of them have to do with new boundaries for legislative and congressional districts.

Casino gambling was defeated in the Senate, and most do not think it will be revived.

A bill designed to curb meth production by requiring a prescription for some cold medications was taken off the table. “I think there needs to be something focused on that issue,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo. Stumbo hints of a possible combination with the bill to curb prescription drug abuse.

“I think there will be a comprehensive drug bill before this session is over and it may make it way to that legislation,” said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg.

Budget negotiations officially start in the House this weekend. The spending plan likely won’t contain many new projects, no raises, and some will face cuts. If it calls for more money chances are it won’t advance.

For three years and a special session a bill to raise the high school drop out age could not make it through both chambers. This year different versions are moving through both. “ We’re hoping this will eventually come to a conference committee and that both sides can walk away satisfied with the end result,” said Rep. Jeff Greer, the sponsor of the House plan.

Greer’s version, which is backed by the Ky Education Commissioner, calls for a statewide mandate to raise the age to 18. The Senate plan gives more control to local school boards. One sticking point has been providing alternatives to kids who simply want to get out of school.

Another education issue is whether UPike should be added to the state university system. It’s controversial because some worry the proposal will take money and resources away from existing universities, notably Morehead State. “Are Governor Patton’s statistics wrong” questioned Stumbo, who sponsors the UPike bill.

The bill was heard in committee yet there’s no word on when a vote will be taken.

Dozens of other bills have passed one chamber to find a roadblock in the other. This as five weeks remain for legislators to iron out their differences and find common ground.

The session is scheduled to officially end on April 12.

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