FRANKFORT — Several new Kentucky laws go into effect this week with some of them related to Kentucky school systems and how they operate.
Senate Bill 50 will allow school districts to use a “variable student instructional year,” which will require the same amount of instructional hours, but will allow for fewer instructional days.
Currently, 170 instructional days are required in Kentucky Schools.
“Districts could begin using the variable schedule in the 2018-19 school year if their first day of instruction is on or after the Monday closest to Aug. 26,” according to the bill.
State Rep. John Sims said the bill was considered partly due to tourism.
“With all the tourism in this state — it was just something that made sense,” he said. “That’s potentially millions of dollars with school starting later.”
Another bill related to school districts is House Bill 128, which will allow schools to offer an elective course on the Bible for students. The course will teach Bible content, poetry, narratives and the impact of those today.
“This isn’t mandatory,” Sims said. “If the students want to learn about it, they can take it as an elective, but no one will be required to take it.”
Another bill, Senate Bill 17, focuses around religious freedoms in the school.
According to the bill, students in public schools, colleges and universities will have the right to express their religious beliefs and political views in their school work, artwork, speeches and in other ways.
“This was something that was attempted last year,” Sims said. “But, it didn’t pass. It’s freedom of speech.”
Senate Bill 117 allows a veteran with a bachelor’s degree in any field to receive a provisional certificate to teach public elementary or secondary school if he or she has an academic major or passing assessment score in the area in which he or she seeks certification.
In March, State Sen. Steve West said the thought behind the bill was to make it easier for veterans to reenter the workforce.
“They’ve served our country, so this was something we thought was important to help give back a little,” he said.
Other bills going into effect Thursday include:
— House Bill 195 creates an alternative to the GED program that requires the Kentucky Adult Education Program to create college and career readiness programs for those seeking high school equivalency diplomas. At least one program must be a test that meets current college and career readiness standards.
— House Bill 333, which creates stronger penalties for trafficking in any amount of heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil or derivatives and allows the state to investigate prescribing irregularities.
— Senate Bill 83, which will allow the state to take necessary action (including special hunts, etc.) against deer and elk that pose a “significant threat” to human safety.
House Bill 14 adds an attack on first responders, such as police officers, firefighters or rescue squad members to be considered a hate crime during the sentencing phase for certain crime.
— Senate Bill 195 creates a process for expungement of felony juvenile records two years after the offender reaches adulthood or is unconditionally released from commitment to the state.
— Senate Bill 11 allows construction of nuclear power plants in Kentucky.
— House Bill 38 bans registered sex offenders from public playgrounds unless they have advanced permission to be on site by the governing body that oversees the playground.
— Senate Bill 129 allows hospital patients to legally designate someone as their “lay caregiver” for the purpose of providing after-care to the patient when he or she returns home.
— House Bill 156 creates the Kentucky Coal Fields Endowment Authority, which will use coal severance dollars to fund infrastructure, economic development, public health and more in the east and west coal regions of Kentucky.
— House Bill 74 allows white light to be emitted from motor vehicle headlamps, although non-halogen headlamps will be allowed to emit a slight blue tint if they were factory-installed.
According to the bill, the intent “is to make it easier for motorists to distinguish emergency vehicles from other vehicles.”