Dinner recess update: House passes bills on dog fighting, school snow days

03/11/2015 07:57 PM

FRANKFORT — Before breaking for dinner on Wednesday, the state House of Representatives approved legislation that would strengthen animal cruelty penalties against dog fighting and allow schools to craft plans in meeting their required instructional hours after heavy snow shuttered many districts this winter.

The action on Senate Bill 143, which now carries much of the language in Rep. Joni Jenkins’ House Bill 154, circumvents floor amendments on the original bill pertaining to cockfighting. SB 143 cleared the chamber on a 75-13 vote.

Jenkins, D-Shively, noted that the federal government recently banned simply attending a cockfight. SB 143 would prohibit owning, breeding and training four-legged animals to fight for pleasure or profit and includes a provision protecting dogs used in hunting or other activities authorized by license or the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

“Kentucky is the only state in the nation that does not regulate dog fighting like every other state,” Jenkins said.

The bill singles out four-legged animals rather than dogs because the canines could be forced to fight other animals like bears, she said.

The four-legged provision bothered Rep. Suzanne Miles, who said offenders may amputate a dog’s leg to avoid prosecution for animal cruelty.

“The same people I think would do dog fighting would also not think twice about taking a leg off of an animal to allow that animal to fight as a three-legged dog and be within the law,” said Miles, an Owensboro Republican who voted against the bill.

SB 143 cleared a number of procedural hurdles Wednesday, as House Minority Floor Leader unsuccessfully challenged the proposed dog fighting amendment three times before the amendment passed 62-33.

“Snow day” bill

The House also passed a bill under which schools can develop strategies in making up time missed for snow days after amending Senate Bill 119, which passed 87-8.

Rep. Derrick Graham said the proposal resembles a similar bill passed last session. SB 119 would allow districts to add time to school days and open during this year’s primary elections if no schools within it are used as polling places to make up the required 1,062 instructional hours.

If a district is unable to complete the mandatory hours, it can appeal to the Kentucky Department of Education commissioner by May 1 for help writing plans to maximize instructional time.

The commissioner can waive school hours if he or she determines the district has taken every possible step to meet the 1,062-hour requirement, according to the bill.

“We who live in central Kentucky and in the urban areas, the terrain is not as difficult for those bus drivers driving those kids across the hollows of eastern Kentucky or on those roads that sometimes can be overwhelmed with flooding,” said Graham, D-Frankfort.

Rep. Adam Koenig, however, said the state should find a way to keep kids in school despite days lost to poor weather. He noted this is the fourth or fifth time he can recall voting on such a measure.

“If we’re going to demand that our kids go to school and that every high school diploma is the same everywhere, then we need to figure out how to make sure that these kids are able to go to school for the full term every year,” said Koenig, R-Erlanger.


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