Legislation for 2009 session already on the table

Although the 2009 session of the General Assembly is still five months away from its opening day, lawmakers are already tossing out potential bills to consider during their 30 days of work next year.

As of Friday, 11 bills have been prefiled for next year’s session, and dozens more are expected to be put out for inspection and consideration before being officially filed next year.

The legislation offered so far includes some hold-overs from the 2008 session as well as some proposals generated by how the legislature conducted its business this year.

Here’s a quick look at some of the bills already prefiled –

BR21 – Rep. Melvin Henley, a Murray Democrat – An act relating to voluntary student expression of religious views in public schools.

Henley’s proposal would allow students to voluntarily express religious viewpoints in school assignments, organize prayer groups and religious clubs and require each board of education to adopt a policy regarding the free expression of religious viewpoints.

BR28 – Sen. Gary Tapp, a Shelbyville Republican, and Sen. Dan Seum, a Fairdale Republican – An act relating to motor vehicles.

This bill would open up the state’s roadways to “low-speed electric vehicles” such as those made by ZAP Electric Autos. Gov. Steve Beshear signed an executive order this week accomplishing the same goal, and possibly clearing the way for ZAP to build a plant in the state. Rep. Steve Riggs, a Louisville Democrat, put forth a similar bill this spring, but it failed to make it all the way through the legislative process.

BR41 – Rep. Addia Wuchner, a Burlington Republican, and Rep. Tom Burch, a Louisville Democrat – An act relating to physical activity for children.

Under this bill, school systems would have to develop more extensive plans for physical education activities for students and require for at least 30 minutes of “structured moderate to vigorous physical activity” per day for students. This idea was offered in various forms this spring, but the legislation failed to move forward. The proposal might find more footing and support this year with the help of the governor’s office – First Lady Jane Beshear said during one of her husband’s town hall meetings in Winchester this summer that she would like to see mandatory physical education in schools.

BR76 – Rep. Jim DeCesare, a Bowling Green Republican – An act relating to a legislative time-out prior to voting on a floor amendment or free conference report related to an appropriation measure or a revenue measure.

The title pretty much says it all. This bill would give legislators more time to review proposal spending bills before a vote is called, and is likely prompted by the diminishing period of time legislators have to peruse the state budget before being asked for their vote. This spring, lawmakers had just several hours to review the massive state budget drafted by a free conference committee made up of House and Senate leaders before the bill came to a vote. Budget negotiations between the two chambers had been open to the public earlier in the process this year, but were closed with legislative leaders saying they would be able to work more quickly in private.

To take a look at all legislation pre-filed this year for next year’s session, visit the Legislative Research Commission’s Web site.

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