State Representative Regina Huff, R-Williamsburg, has sponsored a bill mandating children wear bicycle helmets and a second bill that would require teachers to undergo suicide awareness training as part of their professional development.
Huff said HB-52 and HB-30 have both passed the House of Representatives and are currently under consideration by the Senate.
Huff said the helmet bill, known as “TJ’s Bill,” would require children under the age of 12 to wear helmets when riding their bikes.
“TJ went over the handlebars of his bike,” Huff said noting studies have shown that helmets are 84 to 89 percent effective in protecting the brain in a bicycle related accident.
“If we keep one child from that devastation, it is worth it,” Huff said noting that out of the 450,000 bicycle-related accidents that occur annually nationwide, 135,000 result in head injuries.
In 2016, 54 people in Kentucky died from head injuries sustained while riding a bicycle,” Huff said.
Huff said the bill does not call for any type of fine for failure to comply with the law.
“We want to raise awareness,” Huff said of her reason for sponsoring the bill adding that like with seatbelt usage in vehicles, the goal is to make wearing a helmet while riding a bike second nature for people.
“People never think it can happen to them,” Huff said of a brain injury while riding a bicycle.
Huff’s bill would require teachers to take two hours of their 24 required hours of professional development on suicide awareness, every two years.
Huff noted that suicide is the second leading cause of death among students and that teachers are with their students up to seven hours each day.
“I want to give them the training to have a conversation and understand the signs of a student who may be contemplating suicide,” said Huff who teaches middle school in the Whitley County School System.
Bunch said there are a number of programs that would provide the training for free.
“It is time for this discussion to be out front and prevalent,” Huff said.
Huff said when it comes to the state pension crisis, she believes any resolution should include upholding the promise that was made to current pension holders and current employees.
“We have to honor our promise,” Huff said.
Huff said she still believes tax reform must be a priority.
“We have to go in there and cut the red tape,” Huff said adding that there are a number of tax incentives on the book that should be examined.
As to what citizens may see as the session moves forward, Huff said the funding to complete the improvements to Ky. 92 between Williamsburg and Whitley City in McCreary County appears as if it would be included.
“A lot of the focus on transportation this biennium is on bridges,” Huff said explaining that there are a significant number of bridges across the state that are no longer weighted to carry school buses.
“There are many bridges in my district that should be looked at,” Huff said.
In addition, Huff said welfare reform is an issue that appears to be gaining traction in the legislature.
How that may look in its final form remains to be seen, Huff said.
The session ends April 13.
Huff, who was first elected to the seat in a special election in 2011, announced that she would be seeking a fourth term in 2018.
“I’m excited. I’m at a place where I can make a difference,” said Huff, who serves on the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, along with the Education, Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection committees.
“I’m chairwoman for the largest part of the budget, which is education,” Huff said. “I’m very passionate about education.”
Huff said that like with politics across the country, she has seen the legislature become more party driven, especially with the Republicans holding a supermajority in the House of Representatives.
From the moment she arrived, Huff said she has worked hard not to be a rubberstamp on legislation.
“If I have a problem with a piece of legislation, I’m not afraid to say so,” Huff said. “I have made every effort for people to know where I stand.”
Huff said she has and wants to continue serving her consituents in Whitley and southern Laurel Counties.
“I try my best to serve the people. I make every effort to help you,” Huff said. “That is the only reason I do this job.”