As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee I have the opportunity to move legislation that makes a huge difference in the lives of Kentuckians. During the 2013 Regular Session I was fortunate enough to be a part of the success behind a handful of bills that I believe do just that. Human trafficking (HB3), Religious Freedom (HB279) and Military Voting (SB1) are certainly in that group and for different reasons each garnered much of the attention. There are two other bills, however, that did not share as much stage time with those high profile pieces but can have just as large an impact on the Commonwealth. The first, HB161, created a new series of criminal offenses for cargo theft. A ceremonial bill signing took place at the UPS Supply Chain Campus in Louisville during which Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown described the crimes faced by UPS and other common carriers as an act of piracy. He's absolutely right. There is a wealth of merchandise (electronic, medicinal and otherwise) that flow through enormous hubs like our UPS global hub in Louisville, but until the passage of this bill the hands of law enforcement and the Commonwealth were tied beyond small scale punishment. Unfortunately, the thieves in some instances are far from what any officer, prosecutor or jury would consider small scale - nor are their methods.
The second such bill, and arguably more significant, was HB39, the "eCrimes" bill. Both the Attorney General's office and the Kentucky State Police have teams dedicated to investigating child online exploitation. HB39 brings parity to the powers of investigation between these complimentary teams where before the KSP group was lacking. The bill also provides a common sense protection for children requiring sex offense registrants to obtain consent from a parent or guardian prior to photographing or filming a minor. This particular provision was critical to cover an enormous loophole in current law that allowed sex offenders to film and photograph minors at any time - not exactly the kind of result I think anyone wants.
These two bills demonstrate cooperation between parties, chambers and stakeholders, but also the importance of being vigilant and flexible. Ten years ago the need for web-based eCrime investigation was not clear. Over even the last five years the world has seen grand and swift advances in technology and web access which call for new legislation to address their inevitable criminal uses.
I will continue to monitor the success of these bills as they are put to use in the field, but today I'm simply thankful to have played a part in getting them signed into law. This is the kind of cooperation the people of Kentucky expect of us in the General Assembly.