Here’s what happened this week at the Kentucky Capitol

FRANKFORT, Ky. — This week at the Kentucky State Capitol, lawmakers advanced bills on gender transition services, drag shows, student discipline and more, and a candidate for governor announced where he stands in the debate over medical marijuana.  

What You Need To Know

  • Lawmakers advanced bills on gender transition services, drag shows, student discipline and more this week  
  • Ryan Quarles announced his support for medical marijuana
  • Protestors packed the state Capitol to speak against HB 470 and SB 115 
  • The legislative session ends March 30

Tuesday, Republican gubernatorial candidate and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles announced his support for medical marijuana.

“I think that this is an access to care issue for many Kentuckians across our commonwealth,” he said in a news conference outside the Capitol. 

Gov. Andy Beshear (D) previously issued an executive order to allow Kentuckians with certain medical conditions to possess medical cannabis purchased out of state. 

Lawmakers also advanced House Bill 538, legislation that some worry could further disparities in student discipline.

Among other things, it would let a teacher decide to remove a disruptive student from the classroom for the rest of the day and provide for virtual alternative programs instead of expulsion.

Wednesday, a House committee approvedmeasure to decriminalize paper strips used to test substances for fentanyl.

Thursday, a committee advanced Senate Bill 115, a drag show restrictions bill, which would ban and set up penalties for “sexually explicit” performances on public property or where a child could watch them. 

“For some reason, people want this type of content in front of children and I would dare ask, why?” said Sen. Lindsey Tichenor (R-Smithfield). “Why do we need to sexualize our children?”

Drag Performer Poly Tics told lawmakers the bill “not only compromises or asks me to explain my humanity, but it also brings into question my livelihood.”

Dozens of people packed the state Capitol in protest against that bill and one aimed at gender transition services, House Bill 470.

Under the legislation, a health care provider would lose their license or certification if they provide Kentucky youth with gender transition services like gender reassignment surgery or puberty-blocking drugs.

“Ultimately, it is our obligation to protect children from irreparable harm,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jennifer Decker (R-Waddy), told her colleagues. 

Dr. Chris Bolling, a retired pediatrician, begged the committee not to pass the measure. 

“House Bill 470 will make it nearly impossible for pediatric medical providers to practice in the commonwealth,” he said. “It labels medical treatment that is the standard of care for patients with gender dysphoria as ‘unprofessional and unethical.’” 

The bill passed the full House by a vote of 75-22. 

It moves next to the Senate for consideration. 

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