Coverage on the High Ranking Bills
By Lia Anderson and Monse Muniz
It is the second day of KYA HS 4 and discussion of the bills has ended. We wanted to cover the bills that gained the most traction and were most hotly contested. We would also like to remind you all that we are proud of the work of the sponsors of all the bills, passed or not.
The highest-ranked bills were discussed in the Commonwealth House of Representatives on the second day of KYA. The first bill on the docket was Bill 3. This bill proposed that investigation protocols should be implemented for police officers inappropriately disabling body cameras. Although almost everyone agreed that there needed to be change in the police force, some people thought that this was not the right solution to the problem. There were concerns that it would dissuade forces from implementing body cameras if they are not using them. There were also concerns with bribery and fraud, depending on the agency investigating. Because of this, an amendment was passed to combat the potential of fraud. The amendment proposed that one agency should be responsible for all investigations, and it was passed. All though there were a few people who didn’t support this bill, many delegates thought it was a good idea. They thought it would improve the legitimacy and integrity of the police force. They also thought that it would improve citizen and police officer relations. After the debate, the bill was voted on and passed in the house.
In the Senate, Bill 3 caught much traction between the senators and there were a multitude of pro and con speeches. From the side of the opposition, Speaker of the House Coral Ghrist argued that the bill was too unclear and that it didn’t seem to address the problem of police officers enough. From the side in favor, CW candidates Cal Wagers and Clint Chambliss both agreed that police officers should be investigated for inappropriately removing their body cameras. Candidate Clint Chambliss expressed his support for the bill by asking the Senate a rhetorical question of “how are they supposed to protect us?” if they aren’t being properly investigated. Bill 3 in the Senate was passed.
The next bill on the docket was Bill 15. This bill proposed the requirement of public school students to take at least two years of a foreign language in high school. Many people took issue with this because of the way it would be implemented. People argued that two credits are not enough to effectively learn anything other than vocabulary about a language. This solution lacks the permanent foundation to actually expand student’s futures. Others also thought that this bill was unnecessary, seeing that most colleges already have language requirements to graduate. This bill was thought to be too difficult to make any real changes. There was too much room for error and too expensive. Others thought that this bill was a step in the right direction. They thought that education in Kentucky is falling behind and this was a way to help. A more educated population would benefit all of us and make the students more employable in the future. Others argued that this would also encourage students to think deeper and more creatively. An amendment was passed for this bill to go into effect for the current freshman class. This amendment was passed, but after the debate ended, this bill was defeated in the house.
Bill 11 was the next on the docket. This bill proposed a radical idea that took many by surprise. This bill proposed the creation of “New Ali”. This proposes that Louisville and other progressive counties have the right to succeed from the state of Kentucky. Some people thought that this was a dangerous idea. It could reduce the importance of rural Kentucky. Others thought that this bill would be very polarizing and create more division. Instead, delegates proposed that Kentucky should work together to solve their problems. It was also acknowledged that this process would be expensive, exhausting, and create division amongst those succeeding. Others in favor thought that this would give people who didn’t feel they had a voice, a voice. Overall, after all of the debate, the bill was defeated in the house.
The next bill brought to the floor was Bill 2. This bill was about placing controversial statues in a national museum. Many people didn’t think that this was a good idea. They thought that it wouldn’t help forward progress in acceptance and unity. Many of these statues had a major problem with valuing and glorifying white male supremacists and mass murderers. People also argued that 2 million dollars shouldn’t be spent putting them in a museum and upkeep. Others took major issue with glorifying people who committed horrific actions. It was proposed that there were other ways for them to be remembered. Others thought that this was a good compromise. They argue that their contributions shouldn’t be diminished and learned about to prevent these horrific things from happening again. People thought that this was a good solution and not a way of glorifying these people. They considered it more as a way to keep people informed. Despite this, this bill was defeated in the house of representatives. This bill was discussed again, with the addition of an amendment lowering the percentage of people who needed to vote to have a statue removed. The amendment has been accepted and there was a revote. This bill was then defeated in the revote.
In the Senate, Bill 2’s sponsors witnessed a fierce battle in the pro and con debate. On the pro side, CW candidate Josh Grove passionately defended the bill by stating that the statues must be removed “to grow from our past.” On the side of the opposition, Sen. Camryn Heuser representing Elizabethtown Highschool argued that “anything could offend anyone in today’s world, along with the fact that the process of building a museum and transporting statutes is very expensive.” Another senator that supported the passing of this bill was Hannah Richardson from South Oldham that stated, “this museum is a good way to learn about what these statues represent without necessarily honoring them.” There were many more speeches given from Senators but in the end, this bill was passed in the Senate.
The final bill on the docket was bill 9. This bill proposed establishing an Exploratory Committee to update the state flag of Kentucky to be more inclusive. Those who opposed this found the bill very unnecessary. They thought that an updated flag wouldn’t help heal the issues it was trying to address. Everyone agreed that Kentucky should become more accepting and united, but they thought that a flag wouldn’t make a difference. They thought that other more concrete things should be done instead of spending the time and resources on creating a new flag. Those in favor thought that this was a step in the right direction. They thought that the change in the flag shows the progress that Kentucky has made. It could also be used to encourage minorities and women to continue pushing for equality if they see themselves on the flag. These people believed that increased representation would begin a push for more change and encourage equality. Before this was voted on, two amendments were adopted. The first was that the people creating the flag needed to be reflective of the population, including minorities. The second said that all people in Kentucky should receive a vote on the flag design. With all the amendments, the bill was defeated.
Because it passed in the senate, bill 1 was debated next. This proposes that assistance should be provided to the deaf and hard of hearing. This proposes that captions should be provided for all movies. Those against this bill think that this issue isn’t a pressing matter. There are options for those who are hard of hearing and deaf already in movie theaters. It was also acknowledged that those who have other disabilities, like ADHD, may find the closed captions very distracting. Those in favor thought that for those this did affect, it would make a world of a difference. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing struggle every time they go to the movies and think that this bill would be very helpful. Both proposed amendments were considered unfriendly by the bill sponsor. But the second one was about the line with drive-in movies. The third amendment calls that the previews and announcements before the movie should have closed captions as well. This bill was passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
We would like to congratulate the people that spoke up and passionately fought for their voice to be heard. It is wonderful to hear so many young people that are actively trying to make a difference not only in the commonwealth but also in Kentucky. If you didn’t get the chance to speak at this KYA, we hope that at the next KYA you will. However, if there are no KYA’s left for you then we hope you use this experience to speak up in your future endeavors. We enjoyed hearing everyone’s speeches through our speakers and headphones during the 2020 HS 4 virtual KYA.