Kentucky Legislative Hot Topics - 2018 Session
On Tuesday, December 19, Sturgill Turner attorneys Scott Miller and Langdon Worley attended the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Preview Conference to glean some insight on what lawmakers anticipate to be major initiatives in the upcoming legislative session. With 2018 being a budget year, Scott believes that it will be difficult for the legislature to tackle much else other than budget and pension reform. Below are Langdon’s top three takeaways on other topics that could receive attention this session. Our attorneys will be monitoring these issues, and many others, as they move through the legislative process.
Opioid Crisis and Prison Reform
The panel discussed the far-reaching impact of addiction in our state and how it is negatively affecting children’s health (poor child-rearing, poor quality home life), education (children’s attendance at school, tardiness, etc.), and the strength of the workforce. The legislators on the panel advised that we can expect legislation related to drug treatment programs for Class D felonies, as opposed to incarceration, as a potential solution to assist offenders with addiction who are not charged with trafficking.
There was a panel on Healthcare that I found particularly interesting. The majority of the time was spent discussing a proposed $1 per pack cigarette tax, which is projected to generate approximately $266 million in revenue for the state. The legislators on the panel discussed the fact that Kentucky has one of the lowest tax rates on tobacco in the United States, as well as one of the highest cancer rates. They framed the proposed tax as more of a “healthcare reimbursement assessment,” to be paid by smokers due to the impact of the unhealthy behavior on public expenditure.
Legal Liability Reform
The legal liability reform panel was, of course, of particular interest. Senator Alvarado discussed a proposed bill that is based upon the “Delaware Model” for medical malpractice cases. Based on his description, this model allows physicians to apologize and/or express condolences after an incident without that expression being made discoverable in later litigation; includes medical review panels and also requires a plaintiff to obtain a Certificate of Merit prior to filing a medical malpractice suit; caps contingency fees for attorneys on a sliding scale; and abolishes the rule that a plaintiff is entitled to “one free copy” of his or her medical bills, allowing medical facilities to charge a clerical fee for providing a copy of same.