House Notes: Organ transplants, teen dating, coal counties in peril and a teacher evaluation squabble

02/26/2013 12:10 AM

Monday’s session in the House chamber offered a little bit of everything including one lawmaker speaking about the importance of promoting organ donations because he wouldn’t be alive without it and a squabble between two high-ranking Democrats over teacher evaluations.

Among the highlights:

  • HB 337 that allows local governments in coal-producing counties some financial flexibility if they have lost more than 30 percent of their expected coal severance tax income as a result of tough times for the coal industry. The measure, sponsored by Democratic Rep. John Short of Hindman, allows the seven counties that have lost more than 30 percent of their expected coal severance tax money to transfer money from the the local economic development funds for one year in hopes that the coal industry picks up. It passed 94-0.
  • HB 112 that offers a tax credit for Kentuckians who donate an organ or tissues. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ron Crimm, R-Louisville, deferred to his Republican colleague, freshman Rep. Brian Linder of Dry Ridge, who received a liver transplant nine years ago. “You’re listening to a dead man speak,” he said to begin his remarks. He said his doctors, in October 2003, gave him two years to live unless he got a new liver. (See the rest of his remarks in the highlight video below). The bill passed 95-0.
  • HB 98 that encourages — but doesn’t require — high schools to teach healthy relationships as a way to guard against abusive situations among dating teens. Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, told the chamber that the Kentucky Center for School Safety would provide the curriculum. The bill didn’t prompt any discussion on the floor, although 10 Republicans voted against it. It passed 84-10.
  • But it was bill that ultimately got shelved that yielded the most interesting debate. Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway and the House Education Committee Chairman, sponsored a bill to change how teachers were evaluated to add in student progress and input from students, other teachers and parents. Jenkins, however introduced an amendment to allow districts to be able to opt out. Rollins argued against the amendment, which prompted a back-and-forth between Rollins and House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark of Louisville. In fact, Rollins’ sharp responses weren’t lost on the other members of the House. Keep an eye on the reaction of Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, sitting to Rollins’ left as Rollins responds to Clark:

After the amendment passed 60-20, Rollins asked to lay the bill on the clerk’s desk, temporarily putting it aside until the dispute over the amendment could be worked out.

_Correction: An earlier version of the article misstated the fate of the teacher evaluation bill. It has been laid on the clerk’s desk. _

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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