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Senator Max Wise's Legislative Update: 14 Mar 2016

PERSONAL COMMENTARY
Click on headline for complete report to the people

By State Senator Max Wise, (R-Campbellsville)
16th District: Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Russell, Taylor, and Wayne Counties

As we enter the final weeks of the 2016 Legislative Session, we in the Senate Republican Caucus have been working diligently alongside Governor Matt Bevin on a budget proposal that will set Kentucky on a new course -- one that leads to greater prosperity and opportunity for our children.


Successive Democratic governors have time and again shied away from making the tough but necessary decisions that are our only hope of averting a financial catastrophe. We have accumulated $36 billion in unfunded liabilities, which is approximately an $8,268 debt for every man, woman, and child living in this state. That is why we in the Senate are working tirelessly to find ways to reduce waste and unnecessary spending in state government while protecting the investments we need to make for our future.

One example is a bill I was proud to sponsor, Senate Bill (SB) 117. In hometown communities across the state, independent pharmacists not only dispense needed medication but are also a trusted source of information and guidance for the personal health and wellness of thousands of Kentuckians. That is why I was troubled to find that these independent pharmacists have been consistently underpaid as a result of the unfair business practices of pharmacy benefit managers. PBMs are the middle men who connect pharmaceutical manufactures to insurance companies and the beneficiaries they cover. In many cases, local pharmacists lose money as a result of PBMs reimbursing them less than the cost of the medication. Some use a business model that relies on circumventing state laws to shortchange small businesses and has no place in Kentucky. This status quo is unsustainable, unfair, and a threat to the ability of independent pharmacists to continue serving our communities. To rectify this problem, I brought together pharmacists, PBMs and legislators to work cooperatively to achieve SB 117, which requires PBMs to follow the law in reimbursement pricing for medications. It also empowers the Kentucky Department of Insurance to enforce common sense regulations on PBMs, such as setting up an impartial, formal mechanism for PBMs and pharmacists to settle drug pricing disputes - all without increasing costs to the state or consumers. I am honored to champion this fight of the "little guy" against the corporate model. This bill is good for Kentucky's hometown providers, and I was honored to receive bipartisan support from my colleagues and the pharmacy community.

Additional legislation includes:
  • SB 212. In another victory in our struggle to protect women and the unborn, SB 212 this passed the Senate Chambers with an overwhelming 32-5 vote. I co-sponsored this important piece of pro-life legislation. It will put a stop to the reckless disregard for the law and basic safety of women displayed by Planned Parenthood in Louisville and a private abortion clinic in Lexington in recent weeks. The bill requires abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical service centers. In addition, abortion clinics shall be required to have a health care practitioner on staff who has admitting privileges to an acute care hospital within 50 miles of the clinics location.

  • SB 186/ SCS1. In response to concerns raised by of many local marina business owners from counties across our district, I took action by sponsoring Senate bill 186. This bill requires boat owners who contract to moor their boats in a marina for more than 24 hours to provide the marina owner or staff with the title or a copy of the title to the boat to keep on file. Any marina asserting a possessory lien may enforce the lien by filing a civil action in the county in which the boat is located.

  • SB 50 would give all public schools the option to schedule the first student attendance day no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 unless a school has adopted a year-round calendar and also to allow a waiver when a school has missed at least seven days each year for five previous years due to inclement weather. The benefits to our local tourism economy will be significant. It extends time in the peak summer weeks of August for families from across the state to enjoy our beautiful lakes and parks.

  • SB 225 would expand limited eligibility, subject to sufficient funding, for the homelessness prevention project, which will assist individuals diagnosed with severe mental illness. It will also cover individuals aging out of foster care for up to two years after exit. As we have seen for many years, our mental health system is broken. Many who need vital treatment often have the least access, leading to severe consequences for themselves, their families, and their communities.

  • SB 8 would amend the Kentucky Constitution in order to create a judicial redistricting plan. This bill would reallocate cases based on both need and population to better serve Kentucky's citizens and overwhelming caseloads. Senate Concurrent Resolution 75 would direct the Legislative Research Commission to establish the Kentucky Workforce Oversight Task Force to study and develop recommendations concerning the benefits, investments, and funding of workforce education in our state.

  • SB 228, an anti-bullying bill, would establish codes of conduct in schools to prohibit this behavior and establish procedures for responding to bullying that protect the victim.

  • Once the budget comes to the Senate chambers, our main focus will be moving it forward before the end of the 2016 Session. The citizens of Kentucky have been promised a working, balanced budget, and we in the Senate hope to deliver on that promise soon.
Please note: some of the bill summaries provided in this editorial are supplied by LRC staff. I have read them over and selected the information most relevant to you. They are included with the drafter's permission. If you have any questions or comments about these or any other public policy issues, please feel free to call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or e-mail me at Max.Wise@LRC.ky.gov. You can also review the legislature's work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.


This story was posted on 2016-03-15 06:17:24
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