Bevin OKs Religious Expression In Schools, Signs Other Bills Into Law

Mar 17, 2017

Credit Anne Kitzman, 123rf stock photo

With the General Assembly on break for a 10-day “veto period,” Gov. Matt Bevin has begun signing a flurry of bills into law.

Among new laws that will take effect July 1 are a requirement that malpractice claims be evaluated by a “medical review panel” before they head to court; legislation clarifying that religious expression is allowed in public schools; and a measure allowing veterans who meet certain criteria to obtain teaching certificates without taking a test.

Bevin has signed 24 bills into law so far this year, 11 of which were approved Thursday.

Here are some of the new laws:

Medical Review Panels

Under the new law, medical malpractice and neglect lawsuits will have to be reviewed by a committee of doctors before they head to court.

Panels would have three members — all doctors — with opponents in lawsuits each picking one member. The third member would be picked by the first two.

Supporters of Senate Bill 4 say it will weed out frivolous lawsuits made against doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers and thus make the state more attractive to medical practitioners.

Opponents say the state will have to defend the new law’s constitutionality because it limits access to the courts.

Religious Expression In Schools

Kentucky public school students have a guarantee that they will not be punished for expressing religious or political beliefs in their schoolwork, under the new law.

Senate Bill 17 also bars school officials from interfering with the way religious or political student organizations select members and “doctrines and principles.”

Supporters say the measure merely clarifies that First Amendment rights of free speech apply to religious expression in public schools.

Opponents say it will give student groups a license to discriminate.

Food Donation

Grocery stores, restaurants and other food providers will have protections from legal prosecution if food they donate makes people sick.

Under House Bill 237, those who claim they’ve been harmed by consuming donated food will how to prove that the donating company committed “intentional misconduct.”

Supporters of the measure say it will encourage food providers to donate more food and keep it from going to waste.

Veterans Teaching

Veterans with a bachelor’s degree will be able to get a teaching certificate as long as they’ve met certain criteria under Senate Bill 117, which Bevin signed on Thursday.

Candidates would still have to complete an internship program and have a passing score on the GRE or an equivalent test.

Supporters of the measure say it would bring parity to state laws that already allow other specialists like engineers and business professionals to get teaching certificates.