Sweeping Changes: New Kentucky Laws Set to Take Effect This Week

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A flurry of new state laws on matters ranging from child abuse and drugs to gambling, mental health, gender services, and education will take effect on Thursday in Kentucky, introducing changes that will affect the lives of thousands in the Bluegrass State.

In the 2023 legislative session, the Kentucky General Assembly passed over 170 bills. As the Kentucky Constitution dictates, these new laws will come into force 90 days after the legislature adjourns. As such, the majority of these new laws will be in effect starting June 29. There are a few exceptions, however, such as bills with special effective dates, general appropriation measures, or those with emergency clauses that make them effective immediately upon becoming law.

Among the many changes that will take place this week, child murderers will face harsher penalties, and operators of certain gambling machines known as gray machines could be slapped with hefty fines. There are also promising alterations for workforce training programs that will now qualify for state scholarships, and wellness programs that will provide more confidentiality for doctors and police.

Here’s a closer look at some of the key measures that will come into effect this week:

Senate Bill 229 aims to fortify the protection of children by ensuring that law enforcement, social services, and other authorities are properly notified and communicating effectively in cases of child abuse. The bill also mandates agencies under investigation to cooperate with the authorities.

House Bill 249 introduces a severe consequence for child murder by making the intentional killing of a child under the age of 12 an aggravating circumstance. This ensures that a person convicted of such a crime will face life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

House Bill 544 directs the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services to develop regulations related to delta-8 THC by Aug. 1. These regulations will cover product testing, packaging and labeling, and will also include prohibitions against anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing or possessing delta-8 products.

Senate Bill 268 gives courts the power to order restitution for children whose parents are killed or permanently disabled by an intoxicated driver.

House Bill 236 requires the state’s public pension investments to be based on financial risks and returns, rather than environmental, social, and governance factors, commonly known as ESG.

Senate Bill 150, a comprehensive bill focusing on health services and school policies related to gender and human sexuality, bans puberty blockers, hormones, and gender-related surgeries for minors, with this provision coming into effect on June 29.

Under House Bill 594, certain gambling machines, often termed “gray machines” or “skill games,” will be considered illegal in Kentucky. Any person who manages or owns these machines could face a fine of $25,000 per device.

Senate Bill 9, known as “Lofton’s Law,” raises reckless or dangerous acts of hazing to a crime. First-degree hazing will now be categorized as a Class D felony, while second-degree hazing will be considered a Class A misdemeanor.

House Bill 78 refines Kentucky’s incest laws by explicitly prohibiting a person from having sexual intercourse with a wide range of familial relations, from direct relatives to first cousins and descendants.

House Bill 3 stipulates that juveniles charged with a violent felony offense must be detained for up to 48 hours, pending a detention hearing with a judge. This provision begins in July.

These new laws represent a significant reshaping of Kentucky’s legal landscape, affecting a wide range of issues and potentially having far-reaching impacts on residents’ lives.

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