OPINION: BAKER: House continues to pass legislation to better the Commonwealth.

Mar. 10—As my colleagues and I wrapped up yet another productive week doing the work for our district, I had the pleasure of casting a vote for several pieces of legislation that will put the commonwealth on a better course for the future.

As the weeks progress, we will soon transition into a period where we begin hearing Senate bills. Before then, there are still House Bills to consider. This week, I would like to walk you through some of the integral measures the House has passed:

—HB 446: As our neighbors to the east and west continue their effort to rebuild their communities after tragic weather events ripped through the regions not so long ago, we were able to act on HB 446. This bill allows money in the Eastern and Western Kentucky SAFE funds to be used as loans for the replacement, renovation, or expansion of police, fire, and ambulance stations affected by the tornadoes and flooding in each region over the last two years.

—HB 470: This bill would prohibit access to gender transition treatments for minors, including puberty blockers and gender reassignment. The bill also prohibits the use of taxpayer resources to pay for gender transition services for those under the age of 18 and prevents health care agencies owned or funded by the state from offering the services to minors.

—HB 115: To further look after our police force, we passed HB 115. This measure adds electronic service dogs to the definition of service animals, and it adds generic police dogs to the definition so that we do not have to come back and redefine the statute if we see further advancements in the K9 field.

—HB 21: Allows children who are homeless and at least age 16 to obtain an identification card. The price of the identification card will be set at $5. HB 21 also allows people who are homeless to obtain a driver's license to commute to and from work.

—HB 244: Recognize the Challenge Academy as a separate school district, making the transition easier for kids attending the school. The Kentucky Challenge Academy grants students who have fallen behind in their parent school the ability to catch up academically in an environment that gives them real-world experience.

—HB 538: Addresses classroom disruption that impacts learning by providing a framework for local school districts and administrators. The guidelines for restoring order in the classroom include provisions for students to be placed into an alternative setting, such as a resource room, a classroom where the disruption did not occur, or even virtual instruction. 67% of teachers in the commonwealth cite classroom disruptions as a hindrance to their ability to teach, with 13% of teachers feeling unsafe in their classrooms because of threatening pupils. This legislation seeks to alleviate some of these issues because, after all, students and teachers should feel safe in their classrooms.

—HB 500: To protect farmers and producers in the commonwealth, we recently passed HB 500 through the State Government committee. This measure mandates that governmental entities associated with countries defined in section 126.1 of the Code of Federal Regulations cannot acquire agricultural land in Kentucky. This includes most farming operations, as well as land that can be used to develop an operation. The countries in question include Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela. This list is subject to change as the bill progresses through the legislative process.

While we approach the latter portion of this legislative session, I hope you continue to stay current with what is happening at our state's capitol. As always, I can be reached at home anytime or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Feel free to contact me via email at shane.baker@lrc.ky.gov.