Advocate for Science

March 11, 2020
Our advocacy committee has weighed in on a number of items of legislation. You can check updates on these bills at the Ky Legislature's Bills pages or at Ky Billwatch. This is our letter to Ky legislators:
Dear Kentucky Legislator:
The Kentucky Academy of Science, whose mission is to foster scientific discovery and understanding in Kentucky, is the largest scientific society in Kentucky with approximately 4,300 scientist and engineer members across the Commonwealth.
Our executive committee and membership of the Kentucky Academy of Science strongly supports science, research, and education in Kentucky, and thus we would like to inform you of our support for the following bills:
HB 12, which caps the cost sharing requirements for prescription insulin at $100 per 30 day supply
HB 263 (BR971), which establishes the goal of increasing participation in computer science courses by underrepresented groups
HB 87, which sets new requirements including completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form as a high school graduation requirement, while providing waiver options for meeting the requirement and requiring local boards of education to develop policies and procedures to assist students in completing the requirement
HB 323, which extends current net metering policies to 2024
HB 85 / SB 68, which addresses plastic waste including banning plastic single-use carryout bags, single-use plastic straws, and Styrofoam food and beverage containers by retail food and beverage establishments
SB 42, which requires contact information for national crisis hotlines specializing in domestic violence, sexual assault, and suicide to be printed on public middle or high school student identification badges
HR13, which urges the Kentucky Department of Education to create a task force to improve diversity in STEAM education
HB 334, which proposes the creation of a new section of the Constitution of Kentucky establishing a right of the people to have clean air, pure water, and for the Commonwealth to be required to preserve the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment for the benefit of all Kentuckians – Note: we support this bill with the provision that “pure” water be replaced with “clean” water, as we believe it to be a more scientifically attainable description,
SR 197, which declares April 22, 2020, as Environmental Education Day in Kentucky
HJR 98, which establishes a water and wastewater work group task force
HR 122, which directs governor to declare a state of emergency in Martin County
HB 614, which requires notification of property owners of the need to maintain their on-site sewage disposal systems and the creation of an information campaign to increase public awareness
HB 591, which creates a healthy soils program and fund
HB 126 / HB 584, which make electricity rate affordability a priority
HJR 91, which directs the study of the economic impact of renewable energy portfolio standards and other renewable energy policies in all states and provides recommendations on the applicability and feasibility of adopting new renewable energy policies that support economic growth in Kentucky
HB 403, which raises the eligibility threshold for participation in a voluntary energy cost assistance fund to the percentage of the federal poverty guidelines required for eligibility in the subsidy component of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Given our mission as an organization to foster scientific discovery and understanding in Kentucky, our executive committee and membership of the Kentucky Academy of Science would like to inform you of our opposition to the following bills:
SB 86, which moves to allow local government entities and special districts to void implementation of the water fluoridation programs administered by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. We oppose this bill on the grounds that the benefits of Fluoride are scientifically substantiated and thus the addition of Fluoride to local governments’ and districts’ water should not be made optional.
SB 103, which reduces the minimum acreage requirement to qualify as a "farmstead" from ten acres to five acres for the purposes of on-site sewage disposal system requirements. We oppose this bill on the grounds that the relaxation of sewage/plumbing requirements suggested pose a significant threat to water quality for Kentuckians.
HB 505, which requires that solar electric generating facilities with rated capacities of 5 megawatts or greater be built at least 100 feet from adjoining residential properties. We oppose this bill on the grounds that this is restrictive of solar electric facilities and thus of the implementation of solar electricity. 
HB 575, which provides the right of individuals to use any utility source available. We oppose this bill as written, as it needs further clarification

Finally, we would like to address the Budget Bill (HB 352). We neither support nor oppose the bill as a whole; however, we would like to offer our support for three specific provisions in the budget bill: 1. Protecting the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund from funding sweeps; 2. Keeping higher education increases in the budget, and 3. Keeping the increase in SEEK K-12 funding.

In summary, the Kentucky Academy of Science strongly supports HB 12, HB 263 (BR971), HB 87, HB 323, HB 85 / SB 68, SB 42, HR13, HB 334, SR 197, HJR 98, HR 122, HB 614, HB 591, HB 126 / HB 584, HJR 91, and HB 403, while strongly opposing SB 86, SB 103, HB 505, and HB 575. We also have suggested three specific provisions in the HB 352 Budget Bill.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this process. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Frank Ettensohn, PhD, KAS President ;  Nonah Olesen, M.S., Chair,  Education and Advocacy Committee; Amanda Fuller, M.S., Executive Director

January 22, 2020
This is a budget year in the state legislature and we're on alert watching for threats to the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund. Past years' sweeps of funds out of this fund (Kentucky's only dedicated $ for purchasing land for conservation) have hurt conservation, education and research efforts. If you want to see funding maintained for the KHLCF, you can call the governor or your legislators and let them know. Find a KHLCF property near you or in your legislator's district.

The Legislative message line is 800-372-7181.  This line can be used to leave a message for a committee as well as your own legislators. If you don't know who they are, the helpful people on the phone can look them up for you.

The Kentucky Legislature website is easy to navigate - you can look up any bill, any legislator, and find schedules for committee meetings.

If you Tweet, many legislators use Twitter and their handles are on their web pages:

KET broadcasts our state government's House and Senate sessions and committee hearings live:

During legislative sessions, keep track of bills that interest you using KyBillwatch.