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February 3, 2022

Submitted by Senator Reginald Thomas

FRANKFORT ⎯ The month of February kicked off with clear skies and a high near 60, leaving many of us yearning for spring and warmer weather. The following day, Punxsutawney Phil popped out for his annual appearance on Groundhog Day only to see his shadow, prophesizing the dreaded six more weeks of winter. It did not take long for Phil's prediction to play out as heavy rain and ice arrived during the latter portion of the fifth week of the 2022 Regular Session.

In preparation for the inclement weather, a host of regularly scheduled committee meetings were canceled. The storm also prompted the Senate President and Speaker of the House to cut the week short on Thursday. Before adjourning, the Senate did pass numerous bipartisan pieces of legislation off the floor.

Have you ever received a notification confirming that a package you ordered was delivered, only to show up, and it is gone? In the modern age, e-commerce has become a regular means of transporting goods to consumers. Subsequently, there has been a rise in the number of people who have fallen victim to "porch pirates." The term "porch pirate" refers to people who steal packages from homes, taking advantage of easy opportunities to steal potentially valuable goods.

One measure passed this week seeks to cut down on these instances and hold perpetrators accountable. Senate Bill (SB) 23, also known as the "Porch Piracy" bill, updates the felony theft of mail statute by including protection for packages delivered by common carriers or other delivery services. The Kentucky Supreme Court noted in an opinion that, as written, the current statute only covers packages or other mail delivered by the United States Postal Service (USPS). However, it does not cover common carriers such as Amazon, FedEx, or UPS.

The current statute has not changed since it first passed in 1982. Unfortunately, numerous theft rings have taken advantage of this loophole in the law. SB 23 aims to update the statute and put common carriers under the same umbrella of protection granted to the USPS. SB 23 passed the Senate 37-0 and now goes to the House for further consideration.

Other bills passed this week in the Senate:

SB 8 expands the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board and its mission to include all forms of child abuse and neglect. It also updates the Foster Youth Bill of Rights and expands the ability for family preservation services. Additionally, SB 8 provides resources for Kentucky Child Advocacy Centers. The bill passed overwhelmingly.

SB 32 specifies how to deal with the unfunded liability of the Judicial Reform Retirement system if the unfunded liability changes in the future. SB 32 passed unanimously in the Senate.

SB 33 allows someone convicted of a misdemeanor to petition the trial court five years after the crime to have it expunged from his or her record. It passed the Senate by a vote of 32-4. I voted yes.

SB 61 deletes end-of-course examination and ACT benchmark requirements from the early high school graduation program. The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 37-0

SB 64 establishes a peer support counseling program to provide confidential emotional and moral support to public safety employees who have been in or exposed to an emotionally traumatic experience during their course of employment. It passed in the Senate with unanimous consent.

SB 66, also known as Nathan's law, requires coroners and deputy coroners to attend four hours of grief training to learn about the process and procedures for death notifications. The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 35-0.

SB 94 expands eligibility and access to funds from the Work Ready Scholarship program to students with intellectual disabilities to attend higher education institutions. The legislation passed unanimously.

I will do my best to keep you updated and informed about what is happening in Frankfort throughout the session. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, I remain accessible by email at Reginald.Thomas@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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