As our commonwealth works to overcome the “dual pandemics” of COVID-19 and systemic racism, Kentucky Youth Advocates and the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children have a common vision of a brighter future for every Kentucky kid and their family. We are counting on legislative leaders to prioritize policies that advance race equity and address systemic racism in the current and future legislative sessions.
We previously shared our commitment to ensure all policies within the 2021 Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children policy agenda must meet the criteria of advancing equity and include data or highlights related specifically to how that policy would help kids and their families who are Black or brown. We are proud to see legislators stepping up for kids by advancing two justice related Blueprint for Kentucky Children policies that disproportionately impact Black children and families – Senate Bill 36 and Senate Bill 84.
In addition to the 2021 Blueprint policy priorities, we’ve compiled a list of bills we are monitoring and tracking using our bill tracker that address systemic inequities that have limited opportunities for children of color. While the bill filing deadline has been extended due to weather delays for the General Assembly, we are animated by legislative leaders from both chambers championing the following bills already filed:
- Senate Bill 10, establishes a commission on race and access, sponsored by Senators Givens and Westerfield and Senate President Stivers. The bill would establish a commission on race and access to opportunity that is tasked with providing research driven policy proposals and required to publish an annual report.
- House Bill 212, tracks child and maternal fatalities, sponsored by Representative Samara Heavrin. This bill would require the child and maternal fatality annual report to do a demographic analysis by race, income, and geography and require the annual report be sent to the Interim Joint Committee on Health, Welfare, and Family Services.
- Senate Bill 23, requires health disparity impact reviews, sponsored by Senators Neal, McGarvey, and Yates. This bill would require the Legislative Research Commission to identify any bill, amendment, or committee substitute that may result in a health disparity impact and require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to carry out a health disparity review, if necessary, within 30 days.
- House Bill 283, supports women’s mental health postpartum, sponsored by Representative Jenkins. This bill would require Medicaid to cover behavioral health services for eligible pregnant women for 12 months postpartum.
- Senate Bill 42, requires suicide prevention training for certain professionals, sponsored by Senator Thomas. This bill would require that training programs in suicide assessment, treatment, and management include cultural diversity for certain professionals.
- House Bill 140, establishes telehealth standards, sponsored by Representatives Frazier and Moser. This bill would require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to establish minimum standards for telehealth, reestablish the requirement for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and managed care organizations to study the impact of telehealth on the state’s health care delivery system, require reimbursement rates for telehealth to be equivalent to reimbursement rates for the same service provided in person, and more.
- Senate Bill 55, supports children’s access to healthcare, sponsored by Senators Meredith and Alvarado. This bill would prohibit copayments or cost sharing to be paid by any medical assistance recipients, prohibit copayments be charged in the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP), and prohibit deductible, copayments, and coinsurance requirements for Medicaid telehealth services.
- House Bill 86, limits solitary confinement of youth, sponsored by Representative Wheatley. This bill would limit use of solitary confinement for juveniles and require reporting of data on its use.
- Senate Bill 77, promotes equity in superintendent screening committees, sponsored by Senators Raque Adams and Neal. This bill would require greater representation of persons of color on superintendent screening committees in school districts in which students of color make up 50 percent or more of the student population.
Kentucky kids represent many different races and experiences. As we move forward to the final half of the 2021 legislative session, Kentucky families are relying on elected leaders to advance policies towards equitable outcomes so that every kid can grow up healthy, safe, and hopeful.