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HomeOpinionColumnLegislative Update: 10/26/22

Legislative Update: 10/26/22

Submitted by: Senator Robin L. Webb
Senator, State of Kentucky

FRANKFORT ⎯ The Kentucky State Senate suffered another tragic loss this week following Sen. C.B. Embry’s passing earlier this month. Glen Dreisbach, the husband of my good friend and colleague, Senator Denise Harper Angel, was laid to rest after a courageous battle with cancer. I had several opportunities to meet Glen in Frankfort, and he was a good friend and an overall great guy. I send my thoughts and deepest condolences to Senator Harper Angel and the family and friends of Glen during this most difficult time.

I was honored to be one of eight legislators from across the country to be invited to a summit sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) to hear from legal and policy experts in the area of firearms policy. At the conference, the select lawmakers heard from experts about existing state-level firearm research and the national landscape of firearms laws post-Bruen decision. We also discussed core components of firearms policy and what data and information still need to be collected to inform lawmakers.

During my time in the legislature, I have been a steadfast advocate for our sportsmen and women and a supporter of our Second Amendment rights in Kentucky. It was a great meeting. I am grateful for being selected to participate in this opportunity and represent the people of Kentucky, where we value our Second Amendment rights.

Many members of the General Assembly returned to Frankfort this week for multiple October interim joint committee meetings. As we approach the 2023 session, many of the issues we are discussing will likely be taken up when we convene in January.

In the October meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education, members heard about steps the state is taking to curb vape use in schools. Also known as vape pens or electronic cigarettes, nicotine-laced products continue to be a prevalent issue with teenagers in schools. Now, lawmakers are getting involved and discussing potential legislative solutions to the problem.

Officials who presented before the committee stated that the United States Department of Agriculture reports 2.6 million teens use e-cigarettes, and 25% use them daily, with the bulk being nicotine-based. They also noted the increased instances of teens with e-cigarettes containing THC and CBD. Currently, state law leaves it up to local school districts to decide the punishment for vaping at school. I suspect lawmakers will weigh in on measures that create harsher penalties for vaping in schools in the upcoming session.

In 2020, the federal government passed a universal law raising the age of those who can purchase tobacco products to 21. However, we can all agree that vaping is still a major issue among teenage users and needs more attention. During the interim, the Kentucky General Assembly cannot take any action on legislation, so we will know more when the 2023 session begins.

On Tuesday, members of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation met to learn more about autonomous vehicles (AVs). Arlyn Upshaw, counsel for the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association and an attorney at Venable LLP, answered legislators’ questions and shared information about a business she said increases supply chain efficiencies, decreases the cost of goods, improves safety, and boosts job growth.

She reported that, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 43,000 fatalities occurred on U.S. roads last year – an 11% increase from 2020 and a 16-year high. Upshaw said autonomous vehicles serve many purposes, including delivery of goods, ride-share services, last-mile transportation services, shuttle services, and long-haul trucking.

According to testimony, the federal government is responsible for oversight and administration of performance and safety standards for AVs, and states are responsible forelements such as licensing, registration, insurance, and traffic enforcement. The future of transportation is coming, and it is best if we prepare before that transition becomes prevalent on Kentucky roadways.

The 2023 session is set to convene on January 3. For more on the Kentucky General Assembly, visit legislature.ky.gov. On the website, you can see the weekly schedule, watch live and archived coverage of committee meetings, search legislator contact information, learn about the legislative process, view informational materials, and request to testify at committee meetings.

To share feedback on an issue, you can email me at Robin.Webb@LRC.KY.GOV. You can also leave a message for me on the Legislative Message Line at (800) 372-7181. Citizens with hearing impairments can use the Kentucky Relay Service at 711.

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