Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

March 2, 2011

Senate week in review

By Sen. Robin Webb
CNHI

March 2, 2011 —     FRANKFORT-- Each week brings new challenges in the Kentucky State Senate and this week was no different. The 30-day "short session" we hold in odd years may not seem like enough time to discuss and approve laws that could change the lives of ordinary Kentuckians, but we have managed to pass important bills. This week, we passed legislation dealing with health care costs and access, as well as veterans.

    On Thursday, Governor Beshear signed into law a measure to provide better access to quality health care. Senate Bill 110 will give Kentuckians greater access to necessary eye care and will mean more will be able to get the eye care they need.  This bill passed overwhelmingly in both legislative chambers, showing broad bi-partisan support.

    This week, we passed legislation to benefit Kentuckians who need physical or occupational therapy. Multiple visits over an extended period are usually required for these treatments to be effective. Some health insurance companies charge extremely high co-pays for these visits -- far higher than for regular doctor visits. High co-pays for frequent visits can quickly drive patients to financial ruin, even those who have insurance. SB 112 will save Kentuckians money by limiting a health benefit plan copayment or coinsurance charge for physical or occupational therapy to no more than the charge for an office visit with a physician or osteopath. The bill also will require health benefit plan insurers to clearly state the availability of occupational and physical therapy under their plans and all limitations, conditions and exclusions.

    The freedoms we seek to preserve for our children are so precious in part because so many earlier generations fought and died for them. They all deserve our respect and admiration, and for those who have displayed exceptional valor, we owe even more. House Bill 200, now awaiting the Governor’s signature, would place a plaque in the Capitol to honor all recipients of the Medal of Honor, including the two we still have living here in Kentucky. I am especially pleased that we are honoring one of our own; Ernie West from Greenup County is one of the two recipients still living. Thousands of students and other citizens from across the Commonwealth visit the Capitol each year, and this would be a valuable addition to their tour. Anything we can do to honor our bravest heroes and inspire future generations of heroes, is a worthy endeavor.

    We cannot thank our veterans enough or properly show them our gratitude for their service to our country. Another bill we passed this week, HB 173, is just a way to give back a little to those who have given to us so much. HB 173 exempts members of any branch of the United States Armed Forces based in Kentucky from having to obtain a license to engage in sport hunting or fishing on any military property belonging to the Commonwealth. This is just a small token of our appreciation, considering that our military men and women put their lives at risk for our country. We can never do enough for our veterans.

    With eight legislative days remaining, we will be taking up more House measures in the coming days while the House looks at legislation we have passed in our chamber. We anticipate voting on some significant bills in the final days. For instance, the House has already approved an important bill – HB 463 – overhauling the State’s penal code. HB 463 puts several provisions in place to improve public safety while lowering correctional costs and the state crime rate. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent the bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote. I expect we will vote on HB 463 early next week.

    The pace of the session as we complete the 23rd day is getting more frantic, but we always have time to listen to what the people of Kentucky have to say on the issues. You can always make your views known by calling our Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181, follow our activities online at www.lrc.ky.gov or contact me personally at robin.webb@lrc.ky.gov.

    Senator Robin Webb represents Bracken, Carter, Greenup, Lewis, Mason and Robertson counties.