By Keith Smith, Reporter
Children of the 1980’s can tell you how a bill becomes a law from the epic Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. But how does it work when it’s not on Capitol Hill?
For Representative Mark Hart, it went back to that three-day orientation between election and first session with the Legislative Research Commission.
There is a line of duty death benefit to survivors of first responders, Fire, EMS, and Police, but National Guard and Reservists were excluded from the benefits. Hart who was a National Guard soldier introduced House Bill 268 to rectify that situation. It was only six pages in length but provides line of duty benefits to survivors.
“We recognized what they do for us,” matter-of-factly said Hart about the slight to Kentucky National Guard and Reservists.
But how did that recognition go from an idea to a law?
First, Hart met with the Veteran’s, Military, Public Protection Committee chair in which the bill would begin its trek to a law. The LRC would research laws that could affect the legality of the bill, draft it and make sure all the legal basis were covered.
Hart filed the bill with the Clerk of the House and the bipartisan Committee on Committees met to discuss which committee should handle the issue.
After lobbying the committee chair for the bill to be heard, Hart was accompanied by Brigadier General Steven P. Bullard, US Air Force (Air National Guard) who fielded and answered questions. He was also accompanied by Major Jonathan Gensley, Sgt. Caitlin Walker, Staff Sgt. Stephon Steffen, all of the 149th Vertical Construction Company, Master Sgt. Tim Earls of Joint Force Headquarters whom Hart had served with. All are with the Ky. Army National Guard, and Colonel Mike Jones, US Army Retired, Executive Director Dept. of Military Affairs.
The committee vote was unanimous. It quickly made its way through the House with an 89-0 vote and was passed in the Senate and signed into law by Governor Matt Bevin on March 20, 2017.
“In times of National Disaster, Public Unrest, and States of Emergency, our Guard and Reservists are just as crucial to addressing immediate public safety needs as our Fire, Police, and EMS Personnel are,” said Representative Hart. “They are willing to make a sacrifice for us. So, we need to provide them with some assurance, if they make the ultimate sacrifice, their families will be taken care of. House Bill 268 does this.
From the three-day orientation to the daily activities of a representative and conversations with his constituents, Hart had learned how to have a direct benefit to the everyday person serving the citizens of Kentucky and keeps that as a focus of his freshmen term.