Wednesday, March 01, 2017 - Updated: 2:08 AM
As we moved past the half-way mark of the 2017 Legislative Session the members remained busily focused on legislation dealing primarily with job creation, criminal justice, and what I refer to as fairness and responsibility to our seniors and retirees.
I was pleased to sponsor and secure committee passage of House Concurrent Resolution No. 7, which is a measure calling on the U. S. Congress to take action to protect the rights of those who have paid into social security by ensuring their right to draw benefits upon reaching social security age. Current federal law prohibits many retired teachers and a number of retired public employees, primarily in postal service and law enforcement, who have worked in the 'civilian" workforce and paid into social security, from ever drawing on their benefits because of public pension programs. This creates an unfair situation that is made even more unfair when the widowed spouse of the public employee is denied access to the decedent's social security benefits.
My resolution passed out of committee, was approved by the full house without a dissenting vote, and now moves over to the State Senate for final action. I will be working hard to secure passage.
While the state has no direct ability to mandate congressional action I am focused on securing the support of the Kentucky Congressional Delegation and advancing legislation in Washington to eliminate this unfair practice.
In other action on the House floor this week we passed legislation to provide enhanced penalties for individuals who assault or otherwise cause physical harm to first responders when the courts determine the facts of the case prove the crime was a "hate crime."
At a time when our nation is dealing with what many would consider unprecedented strife and divisiveness there is an alarming increase in assaults on first responders, police, fire and EMS personnel, for no reason other than the fact they are wearing a uniform. While civil protests of public policy have been at the core of our nation's heritage since our founding, turning to violence on those who seek to make our streets safe is unquestionably unnecessary and wrong. When it can be determined the perpetrators of reckless acts of violence are committed simply because first responders are seen as agents of the government, the acts should be recognized as hate crimes and the punishment should be enhanced.
I believe strongly we owe it to those who keep us safe to in return ensure their safety by sending a loud clear message: you intentionally harm our first responders and you will face the full measure of the criminal justice system.