Ky. lawmakers vote on top priority bills on charter schools, abortions

A flurry of action happened at the Kentucky State Capitol Tuesday as lawmakers near the end of the legislative session.
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 4:00 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - A flurry of action happened at the Kentucky State Capitol Tuesday as lawmakers near the end of the legislative session.

The controversial charter school funding bill and legislation that adds new restrictions to abortions in Kentucky both passed out of Senate on Tuesday.

The debate over charter schools has continued in Kentucky as legislation creating the funding streams for the schools is now headed to the governor.

“A gross misuse of public schools. And one that we should all not allow to happen,” Democratic Senator Reggie Thomas said.

“We have before us here in House Bill 9 an opportunity for us to excel in those places where the students deserve to be in robust programs of excellence,” Republican Senator David Givens said.

The legislation provides a permanent funding mechanism for charter schools. Opponents say it would take away from public schools, and tax payers would foot the bill for programs that may or may not work. Supporters say it gives more opportunity, especially for students in areas that are behind.

The most intense moment of the day came during a debate over House Bill 3, which adds several new restrictions to abortion access.

“There are certain legislators who feel they have a right to regulate their personal religious and their personal moral beliefs over the rest of us,” Democratic Senator Karen Berg said.

“This bill does not outlaw abortion. It puts regulations around mail order prescriptions for abortion,” Republican Senator Ralph Alvarado said.

The gallery cleared after those against the bill voiced their outrage. Democrats walked out of the chamber ahead of the vote, which added on a ban on all abortions after 15 weeks.

One bill waiting to be heard by the Senate is the medical marijuana legislation. It passed out of the House, but Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer says it will likely not come up. WKYT’s Chad Hedrick talked to a mom who has pushed for this legislation and is outraged that it’s not getting a chance to move forward.

“There’s people all over the state and we are demanding that they help us. What they’re doing by not passing this and not helping us, they’re ignoring their constituents,” said Julie Cantwell with the group Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana. “I’m sick of it and I want Senator Thayer to prove it. He thinks we don’t have the votes. Prove it. Call it to the floor. Let’s go.”

Senate President Robert Stivers said while medical marijuana can be beneficial, he’d like to see more research before he can get behind the measure.

“Every study I saw said the sample size was too small and the duration was too short, and there hasn’t been an appropriate balancing with the side effects,” Sen. Stivers said.

Lawmakers have until late Wednesday night to pass top priority bills before the veto period. That way they have the opportunity to override any vetoes from Governor Beshear.

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