State laws approved during the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly are going into effect Saturday, including measures calling for high schoolers to be taught abstinence in sex ed and barring anybody under age 17 from getting married.
Other legislation requires drivers to leave three feet of space between their vehicles and bicyclists when passing. Another new law puts in place stronger penalties for people who post sexually explicit images without the subject’s consent.
Here’s a breakdown of each of the 13 new laws:
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Senate Bill 71 sets “abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children.”
The law will require Kentucky high schools to include abstinence education in any sexual education curriculum.
Opponents of the law have expressed concern that pushing abstinence teaches girls to keep quiet about their sexual experiences, which may prevent them from getting the information they need to make safe, healthy choices.
Senate Bill 57 allows a victim of terrorism to file a claim for damages against the terrorist in state court.
The bill also says a conviction of terrorism is punishable by life imprisonment without parole.
It defines terrorism as any activity that “involves violent acts or dangerous acts to human life that violate state law; appears to be intended to: intimidate or coerce a civilian population; influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”
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House Bill 71 increases penalties for posting sexually explicit images, including a photograph, film, video recording or digital reproduction, without the consent of the person depicted.
According to the law, distribution of these images without consent is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class D felony for each following offense. If the offender distributes for profit or gain, it is a Class D felony for the first offense and a Class C felony for each subsequent defense.
The bill also clarifies that “consent to the creation of the visual image does not, by itself, constitute consent to the distribution of the visual image.”
House Bill 373 allows police to keep certain body camera footage from the public.
Footage that includes the interior of a private residence, medical facilities, women’s shelters and jails or that shows a dead body, evidence of sexual assault, nude bodies and children may not be disclosed under the new bill.
Other body camera recordings protected by the bill include footage that reveals the identity of witnesses or shows a public safety officer “carrying out duties directly related to the hospitalization of persons considered mentally ill.”
The bill lists other situations in which disclosure of footage should still be governed by the Kentucky Open Records Act, including when there is “a use of force” in an officer encounter. It is unclear what takes precedent if footage includes situations protected by the new exemptions as well as those stated to still be governed by the Open Records Act.
Authors of the bill, Reps. David Osborne and Robert Benvenuti did not immediately return phone calls on Friday.
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Senate Bill 48 prohibits marriage of anyone under age 17 and requires the marriage of any 17-year-old to be approved by a district judge.
If a 17-year-old wishes to get married, the couple may petition the District Court by providing personal information about each intended spouse, a statement of the reasons for wishing to be married, evidence of maturity, proof of having completed high school and maintenance of stable housing or employment for at least three consecutive months before the petition, as well as copies of any criminal records and domestic violence orders involving both intended spouses.
House Bill 84 requires coroners or medical examiners to provide information about a deceased person to the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates if the person’s wish to be an organ donor is known and the body is suitable for medical transplant or therapy.
House Bill 33 requires drivers to keep at least three feet between their vehicles and bicyclists during an attempt to pass. If that much space is not available, “then the driver of the passing vehicle shall use reasonable caution in passing the bicyclist,” the bill states.
The new law allows drivers to cross into the left of the road center, including when a no-passing zone is marked, to pass a bicyclist if the lane is free of oncoming traffic.
House Bill 187 requires the Department of Education to make a “dyslexia toolkit” to school districts to aid education of students with dyslexia.
According to the bill, the toolkit should include suggested training programs, guidance on developing instructional plans for students with dyslexia and other information related to using “multisensory approaches” to teaching language and reading skills.
The bill also states the Department of Education will “improve and update professional development opportunities for teachers specifically related to dyslexia.”
By January 2019, each local board of education will be required to develop policies, outlined in the bill, for addressing the identification of kindergarten through third-grade students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.
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Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, Kentucky public high school students will be required to take a financial literacy course before graduation, according to House Bill 132.
The “local school-based decision making council” of each high school will be responsible for determining curricula. The bill states the Department of Education will develop materials and model curricula to provide direction.
Foster care and adoption
House Bill 1 was created “to reform the state’s foster care and adoption system to ensure that a child’s time in foster care is limited and that children are returned to family whenever possible,” according to a press release.
The bill expands the definition of blood relative for children sought to be adopted, adding a relative of half-blood, first cousin, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, a person of a preceding generation, a stepparent, step-sibling or “fictive kin,” or people considered to be part of the same family but are not related by blood or marriage.
The bill also establishes a Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee consisting of 10 members appointed by Senate and House leaders. The purpose of the committee is to “review, analyze, and provide oversight to the General Assembly on child welfare within the Commonwealth related but not limited to foster care, adoption, and child abuse, neglect, and dependency.”
Senate Bill 6 requires pharmacists to provide information about how to safely dispose of certain prescription medicines, such as opiates and amphetamines.
The bill also states that a pharmacy practitioner must “sell or distribute a nontoxic composition” for the deactivation or disposal of unused controlled substances that must “permanently capture the controlled substance.”
Senate Bill 160 clarifies laws related to prevention of price gouging when the governor declares a state of emergency.
The bill allows fines to be imposed on retailers if they increase the price of goods more than 10 percent during emergencies.
An increased price does not violate the new law if it is related to an additional cost imposed by suppliers or is “generally consistent with fluctuations.”
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House Bill 136 increases what breweries can sell to customers to three cases and two kegs per customer.
Breweries also will be allowed to sell one case per customer at fairs and festivals, according to the new law.
Reach reporter Emma Austin: 502-582-7081, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @emmacaustin. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/subscribe.