The legislative session began winding to a close this week, and Tuesday marked two significant wins for Kentucky children. Two policy items identified by child advocates as priorities for the 2013 session on the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children won final passage by the legislature and are on their way to the Governor for his signature. On Tuesday, the legislature passed HB 3 – a bill to address human trafficking and ensure child victims of trafficking receive appropriate services. The legislature also passed HB 290 – a bill to create a permanent child fatality review panel which will work to prevent child abuse deaths from occurring.

Passage of these bills reflects a commitment to children above partisanship and a willingness to work through the challenges to find common ground. We are excited about the passage of these two important pieces of legislation and want to take the opportunity to thank key leaders and groups that helped make them a reality.

First, we thank and congratulate primary co-sponsors Representative Sannie Overly (D) and Representative Addia Wuchner (R) and the many other co-sponsors of HB 3. We also give credit to the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Providers, who led a coordinated effort among many groups on this issue. Both the co-sponsors and the Association did an extraordinary job of convening stakeholders and building consensus on the bill components to best tackle the problem of human trafficking. We also thank House Judiciary Chair John Tilley and the Senate Judiciary Chair Whitney Westerfield for their support of the bill in their respective committees.

The work on HB 290 also reflected bipartisan champions for kids. The primary co-sponsors in the House, Representative Tom Burch (D) and Representative Jim Wayne (D) led the bill through the House with the help of other co-sponsors and many members of the House Health and Welfare Committee who worked to strengthen the bill in the House. Senator Julie Denton (R) further strengthened and championed the bill in the Senate with the support of many Senators who showed their support.

Finally, we thank the many partners of the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children and other interested stakeholders who spent months identifying and honing the key components of these bills. The Blueprint started six years ago and in that time we have seen many positive successes. This year will add even more successes to the Blueprint with the passage of these bills. We cannot commend the Blueprint partners enough for their commitment to working together to improve the lives of children across Kentucky.

Though the legislature faces many outstanding challenges before the final two veto days of this session, we recognize the great work undertaken in addressing important challenges facing Kentucky children.  Thanks to the sponsors and leaders who made it possible. Thanks also to all of you who took time from your busy schedules to call your legislators, participate on work teams, and participate in Children’s Advocacy Day on February 7, 2013. Kentucky kids will be better off for your efforts, so today, take time to celebrate with us.