The last week of session contained several long days and late nights. Monday the house adjourned at around 11:20pm, and Tuesday the KY General Assembly adjourned for the final time in the 2013 session at midnight. After finishing up at my office and driving home, I was in bed by about 3:00am. As exhausted as I was, the last few days were good all in all.

Tuesday afternoon, SB3 came to the house floor. This bill was termed by many as the Christian Medishare Bill. It allowed religious organizations who had medical cost enrollment plans to continue operating in Kentucky. These plans are designed to allow members to pay into a pool and draw from that pool for medical expenses they may encounter in the future. These plans have operated in Kentucky for years, but were recently stopped by the department of insurance for operating in the manner of an insurance company. Let me stress, they are not insurance programs. They are a vital resource for many folks who can't get insurance due to pre-existing conditions or who have expenses that are not covered under the insurance they may have. The bill passed both chambers and is awaiting the Governor's signature.

Late on the last night SB2, the pension reform act, was brought to the floor and passed in both the house and the senate. The plan honors the existing contracts of our state employees, and makes changes to new hires starting in 2014. Research was provided to us showing that Kentucky had about 5 years worth of funds remaining to cover existing pension benefits, which would have put our current retirees and future retirees at risk. The problem had arose from 2 things, a major hit in investments from the stock market & past general assemblies not fully funding the required contribution from the budget. This plan had to be acted upon now to save the entire retirement system. The"can" had been kicked down the road for years and this year was the year to stand up and do what we were elected to do. This plan will save the state $10.2 Billion over the next 20 years.

Along with SB2 came HB440. This was the revenue side of the pension plan. It laid out the funding mechanism for how the general assembly will fund the contribution. The bill passed both chambers as well. This was a historic moment for our state. Several other states had passed pension reform, but from our understanding, Kentucky is the first state to pass a measure to fund the pension plan. The pension plan was signed by the Governor on Wednesday.

In the last few hours of the final night, HB279, the Religious Freedom Act came to the house floor for an override of the Governor's veto. This bill is a very small and simple bill. The bill itself is only 3 sentences long. It said that government shall not burden a person's freedom of religion unless it has "clear & compelling evidence" to do so. A statement was made on the floor that this bill was designed for a "hidden agenda" and that there was no evidence that religious freedoms (particularly Christian freedoms) were under attack. Rep. Stan Lee made the case that prayer was taken from schools, Bibles were taken from schools, and now groups are trying to take the word "God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. Religious freedoms are under attack. I stand with my colleague Rep. Lee. The override passed the house and it was an overwhelming moment when the Senate voted to stand with the house and override the Governor's veto. HB279 Will become law.

This session started slow and at times got very frustrating when it seemed nothing was getting accomplished. I voted my heart & conscience on every vote I made, and I hope that the people of the 80th District can support me in that. No one will agree on every issue 100% of the time, but I can always promise you, after prayerful consideration I will do what I feel is best for our district. Despite the initial frustrations, in the closing days this general assembly did what hasn't been done in a while, and what many folks claim government doesn't do anymore, we took a stand on tough important issues. We also accomplished one other thing that hasn't been done in a while, we avoided a special session! Hopefully, the citizens of Kentucky can be proud of the overall job this General Assembly has done.