New laws approved during the Kentucky General Assembly's 2012 regular session go into effect July 12th.
The new laws mean copper thieves won’t be able to sell stolen materials for quick cash at recycling centers. Passengers in large vans will no longer be exempt from the state’s seat belt law. And meth producers will have a harder time getting large amounts of a key ingredient needed to make their illegal drugs.
The Kentucky Constitution states that legislation approved by the General Assembly goes into effect as state law 90 days after a legislative session ends, unless a bill specifies a different effective date or contains an emergency clause that makes it effective as soon as it is signed by the governor.
This year’s regular session adjourned on April 12.
Among the issues covered by laws that go into effect July 12 are the following:
Blue Alert. Senate Bill 32 will establish a statewide emergency alert system to catch those suspected of injuring a police officer. The “Blue Alert” system, which is modeled after the Amber Alert system, will use law enforcement communication systems, electronic highway signs and media to spread information to catch perpetrators after an officer has been reported wounded or missing.
Coal mine safety. House Bill 385 will enforce new rules for miners who fail drug or alcohol tests. Offenders will be ineligible to hold mining licenses or certificates for three years. Penalties are more severe for repeat offenders.
Coal truck drivers. HB 411 will designate the Monday of the fourth week in August as Coal Truck Driver Appreciation Day.
Concealed deadly weapons. HB 484 will allow Kentuckians to carry concealed weapons without a license on their property or place of business.
Copper theft. HB 390 will help curb theft of copper and other valuable metals by ensuring thieves don’t get immediate cash for the stolen goods at recycling centers. Instead, after showing proof of ownership, a check will be mailed to those selling certain metals to recycling centers. The legislation will also ensure that recycling centers receive reports on recently stolen metal items in the area so they can be on the lookout. The bill does not affect individuals recycling aluminum cans.
Confederate pensions. HB 85 will remove from the law books outdated language regarding pensions for Confederate soldiers.
Consumer protection. HB 421 will protect homeowners from being defrauded by providing a five-day grace period to cancel a signed roofing contract if the homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover the repair work.
Diplomas. SB 43 will provide diplomas to students with disabilities who finish modified high school curriculums. The diploma will replace the certificate of completion the students currently receive.
Emergency room safety. SB 58 will allow officers to make arrests for misdemeanor assault with probable cause if the crime occurs in a hospital emergency room. Under current law, emergency rooms aren’t exempt from the requirement that an officer must witness a misdemeanor assault in order to make an arrest.
Ethics. HB 402 will allow the Executive Branch Ethics Commission to share evidence with the state Personnel Board or the Auditor of Public Accounts if the information is needed for the agencies’ investigations.
For-profit postsecondary schools. HB 308 will establish a new panel to regulate private for-profit colleges and universities in Kentucky. The legislation will replace the Kentucky Board for Proprietary Education with the Kentucky Commission on Proprietary Education and will limit the schools’ membership to four seats. The legislation also calls for the creation of a compensation fund (paid for by the industry) for grievances of eligible Kentucky students and a revised student complaint review process.
Meth labs. SB 3 will boost efforts to stop production of methamphetamines by tightening rules on the purchase of certain cold and allergy medicines that contain an ingredient needed to make meth. The legislation will decrease the current monthly over-the-counter purchase limit of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in pill or tablet forms from 9 grams to 7.2 grams and impose a 24 gram yearly limit. The measure will also replace the paper-tracking system currently in place for the purchase of medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine with a mandatory electronic system that will allow more real-time tracking.
National Guard Assistance Program. HB 224 will make Kentucky National Guard members eligible for financial assistance to help pay child adoption costs.
Personal-care homes. SB 115 will require a medical examination that includes a medical history, physical examination and diagnosis prior to admission to a personal-care home.
POW/MIA flags. HB 121 will require Prisoner of War and Missing in Action flags purchased or displayed by public institutions to be made in the United States.
School facilities. SB 110 will make it easier for school districts to allow community access to school facilities for recreational use during non-school hours by protecting the schools from liability in cases where an injury occurs.
Seat belts. SB 89 will expand Kentucky’s seat belt law to include 15-person passenger vans. The bill was filed in response to a 2010 crash on I-65 near Munfordville that killed 11 people, most of whom weren’t wearing seat belts. Current state law only requires seat belt use in vehicles designed to carry ten or fewer passengers.
Speed limits. HB 439 will allow the Transportation Cabinet to increase the speed limit on I-69 in Western Kentucky to 70 miles per hour.
Veterans’ licenses. HB 221 will allow veterans to have their service designated on driver’s licenses and state identification cards. The designations will make it easier for veterans to show proof of service needed for various discounts and special services available to them.
War memorial. HB 256 will establish a committee responsible for oversight of construction and upkeep of an Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial.
Wild hogs. HB 344 will impose stiffer penalties on those who release feral hogs into the wild. The state’s growing feral pig population is a threat to farmland, natural habitats and human health, experts say.