Newly elected Kentucky lawmakers talk 2019 issues – from pensions to medical marijuana

PADUCAH — Newly-elected lawmakers are watching the pension debate from the sidelines, but as January approaches, they’re preparing for the next legislative session.

District 3 Rep.-elect Randy Bridges represents parts of McCracken County. District 6 Rep.-elect Chris Freeland represents parts of McCracken as well as Lyon and Marshall counties.

They spoke at the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday about the legislative agenda for 2019.

“Both of us know that this is not our seat. This is your seat — the people’s seat,” Freeland said.

“Times are changing, and hopefully the bipartisanship can go away,” said Bridges.

“I think the very first bill presented will be to take off the sales tax for the nonprofits,” Freeland said.

“The death penalty will come up,” said Bridges. “I believe that will be mentioned in some pre-filed bills, criminal justice reform.”

Bridges thinks now that the federal farm bill has passed and legalized industrial hemp, that medical and recreational marijuana will be brought up. There is already a pre-filed bill to speed up medical marijuana research.

Another issue they’re talking about is opioid abuse. “For the traffickers and the dealers, some really harsh sentences,” Freeland suggested. “But for the person that has been to the doctor and developed an addiction, has not broken the law other than just in a smaller sense, maybe less of a punishment and more of treatment.”

As for pension reform, their peers are working on it before they take office. “I’m glad we are not there this week,” Freeland joked. He said he is sending thoughts and prayers to the lawmakers who are in Frankfort during the last-minute special session.

Freeland thinks the people currently in office want to finish what they started. Both newly elected representatives agreed that if Senate Bill 151 passes, there will still be more pension problems to deal with in 2019.

They also talked about gaming and toll roads. They say those topics will probably come up next year.

Newly elected officials take office in January.

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