Bevin gives local schools more control with the sweep of a pen

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FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Matt Bevin signed eight more bills into law on Monday that were passed during the final days of the 2017 General Assembly.

Among the major ones was Senate Bill 1, an omnibus education bill designed to place more control and accountability in the hands of local school districts, enabling them to have a stronger voice in how to improve performance by both students and teachers, and to turn low-performing schools around.

The sweeping new law requires regular reviews of academic standards in Kentucky schools, makes schools accountable for success indicators such as graduation rates and college admissions exam scores, offers state-funded opportunities to assess students’ academic progress through taking early college admissions tests, returns responsibility for teacher evaluation back to local school boards, and reduces the amount of paperwork required from teachers and administrators.

Other bills originating in the Senate include SB 114, which increases the minimum liability coverage for motor vehicle insurance to $25,000 on Jan. 1, 2018, and SB 120, which is designed to help inmates reintegrate into society after completing sentences.

During House floor debate, Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, said SB 120 is intended to improve public safety by “holding the offenders accountable, and providing for better circumstances and opportunities when they exit the criminal justice system.”

“It does not address reform of the criminal penal code, it doesn’t address offenses and it doesn’t address punishments,” said Petrie. “The main point of the bill is to put tools, skills and experience at play, so when people exit the system, they are better equipped to become productive citizens that we want them to be.”

Among the new laws originating in the House was HB 241, which protects student athletes.

The law prohibits a coach from returning a student to play who is diagnosed with a concussion and requires written clearance from a physician before the student can return to practice or participate in a game.

HB 387 allows the Executive Branch Ethics Commission to turn over evidence gathered in an investigation to any other agency that has jurisdiction to review, audit or investigate an alleged offense. It also raises the registration for lobbyists from $125 to $500.

HB 492 allows a court to adopt a temporary child custody agreement if the plan is mutually agreed upon and adequately provides for the welfare of a child. It also presumes temporary joint custody and equal parenting time.

Bevin still has about 30 bills awaiting his signature or a veto. Any bill vetoed by the governor cannot be overridden since the General Assembly has wrapped up its regular session.

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