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Deficit Sure to Dominate;Education and the Arts Remain My Priority

I hope your holidays were refreshing and
that 2010 has started off nicely. Like many of you, the New Year
has thrown important work into high gear. The 2010 regular
session started yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, January 5, and
continues for 60 legislative days. Kentucky’s looming budget
deficit is sure to dominate dialogue; however, there are many
important bills that must move forward.

I will be filing various bills in the coming weeks and will send
regular updates to keep you posted. You can watch all proceedings
live at www.ket.org.

Be sure to visit the Capitol and take a peek at juried art by
local artists, sponsored in part by the Kentucky Arts Council. My
office helped to arrange this display, hung in the halls of the
annex, to highlight the beauty, creativity and undeniable talent
of Kentucky artists.

Call my legislative office at 502-564-8100 to reach me. Please
find me on Facebook and Twitter, where I hope to post updates
more regularly.

2010 Session

Education

Education is my highest priority as your state representative. I am committed to improving the quality and accessibility of public education in Kentucky, from our pre-school classrooms to our universities.

I am a member of the House Education Committee and of the Budget sub-committee that reviews university spending. Thus, I am positioned to directly affect the policy and budget on crucial education issues.

I had the opportunity to shape K-12 legislation last year when, as a freshman, I was appointed to the committee that revised the Kentucky Educational Reform Act (KERA). We negotiated with Senate leadership to forge a new student-testing system (which will go into effect in 2011) that tracks the progress of individual students as well as individual schools and school districts.

Regarding our public universities, the key issues are affordability and quality. Rising costs and budget constraints put higher education out of the reach of increasing numbers of Kentuckians. My goal will be to ensure access to the greatest number seeking a higher education.

The University of Kentucky and the Bluegrass Community Technical College lie in the heart of our 75th legislative district. Not only is UK the fifth largest employer in the state, it is on its way to becoming a Top 20 public university in the nation. We must attain this goal by ensuring that faculty and staff are competitively paid, research programs are adequately funded, and student scholarships are widely available.

In 2010, I will be filing an education bill, “Arts Education for All.” Currently, children with developmental disabilities have limited access to arts education in schools. My proposal – based on the work of Dr. Nicolas Kouns, a Lexington physician dedicated to the arts – will build a network of arts programming across Kentucky.

Recent studies show that children with intellectual and learning disabilities who are engaged in music, painting, poetry, and dance are more likely to thrive in school and at home. The good news is that Kentucky already is known nationwide for our arts programming, especially for gifted children. Now, we have to extend arts opportunities to all of our children.

The Justice System

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, my job is to help weigh questions of right and wrong against what is practical and sustainable. The top issue before Judiciary in January is reform of our penal codes. We’ll be looking particularly at how to effectively handle non-violent offenders without the financial burden of imprisoning them. For a copy of the recommendations being proposed to reform the codes, email me at Kelly.Flood@lrc.ky.gov.

I will also be re-filing the “Protect Breastfeeding Families from Harassment” bill. This bill is similar to one I sponsored last year that passed the House overwhelming but died in the Senate. It would impose a penalty of up to $1,000 on anyone convicted of harassing a woman who is breastfeeding.

Harassment of breastfeeding women was made illegal in 2006, but no penalty was attached. Since then, at least two Kentucky women have been verbally harassed while attempting to breastfeed their babies in family restaurants. I intend to re-file the bill until penalties are imposed.

Tourism, Development and Energy

Kentucky’s economy has the potential to be as rich as its natural resources.

I whole-heartedly believe in strengthening our signature industries, including horse racing, which employs 100,000 people in the state. That is why I am supporting efforts by Gov. Steve Beshear and House Speaker Greg Stumbo to allow video lottery terminals at our racetracks.

I also support tax incentives for high-tech start-ups and for advanced medical research in our health industry, both of which have already carved their niche in Lexington.

And I want to help bring Kentucky to the cutting edge of business development. That’s why I’m sponsoring a “Low-Profit, High-Impact Business” bill that will recognize a new breed of company – a mission-driven business that puts the betterment of communities above making a profit.

These so-called low-profit businesses – legal in two states and being considered in six others – are known as L3C’s in tax jargon. They are designed to attract investors who want to impact social change while receiving a return on their investments. Investors in such low-profit businesses can include foundations, organizations, individuals and government agencies