Lawmakers' Latests

With only a few days left in the General Assembly session, it is crunch time for state legislators.

A proposal requiring cigarette makers to sell only self-extinguishing cigarettes in Kentucky has won approval in the House.

The bill passed 98-to-0. The House did attach an amendment to the bill. That means the proposal must now go back to the Senate for approval.

Also in the Senate, a bill aimed at improving safeguards for Kentucky social worker has been rewritten.

The bill is named after Boni Frederick, a Henderson social worker who was killed while supervising a visit between a toddler and his biological mother.

A Senate panel with backing from a top aide to Governor Fletcher, revamped the bill yesterday, Thursday, March 8, 2007.

The version headed to the full Senate includes no guarantees for the hiring of additional social workers. It also strips the bill of the almost $5 million in funding.

Health and Family Services Secretary Mark Birdwhistell said the new version gives him more latitude to try to protect social workers.

Birdwhistell also said if he decided extra staffing was needed, he could dip into existing Cabinet funds.

The bill has already passed the House.

Meanwhile, the Senate has passed a bill clearing the way to raise Kentucky’s speed limit to 70 miles per hour.

The measure would allow the speed limit on rural interstate highways and parkways to be raised from the current 65 miles per hour to 70.

Before taking effect, the higher speed limit would need approval from the State Transportation Secretary, following an engineering study looking at safety factors.

Fletcher spokeswoman, Jodi Whitaker did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Also, Another state senator is trying to revive a stalled bill that would make it easier to prosecute drivers under the influence of drugs.

The bill would make it illegal to drive after consuming a controlled substance but the measure is a snag in the House Judiciary Committee.

Some Democrats fear the bill may be unconstitutional. Kathy Stein of Lexington said she’s not trying to kill the bill but she agrees drugged driving is a problem.

The senator sponsoring the bill plans to attach it to every senate bill he can. In a statement released by Governor Fletcher this afternoon, Friday, March, 9, 2007, he said if necessary, he is prepared to call a special session to deal with the unresolved legislative bills.

As always, stay connected to for the latest on what your lawmakers are working on.