Kentucky 2021 State Legislative Update

With another legislative session behind us, below is a recap of the criminal justice and recovery-related reforms that passed. All bills listed here have been signed into law by Governor Beshear. For more information on specific bills, please visit the Kentucky LRC website.

  • Senate Bill 51, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, removes prior authorization requirements for prescription medications to treat substance use disorder so that Kentuckians will face fewer roadblocks when trying to achieve long-term recovery.
  • House Bill 427, sponsored by Rep. Danny Bentley and Rep. Kim Moser, establishes a new advisory commission to determine how opioid settlement funds will be allocated in Kentucky.
  • House Bill 497, sponsored by Kim Moser, removes barriers to reentry for those exiting the corrections system and allows the Kentucky Department of Corrections to issue a certificate of employability to those who successfully complete programs while in incarceration.
  • Senate Joint Resolution 59, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, directs the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to create an advisory committee to investigate funding mechanisms and feasibility studies around recovery housing including a full continuum of care for the treatment of individuals with substance use disorders.
  • Senate Joint Resolution 68, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, directs the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to work with substance use disorder treatment providers to create a work group to establish a pilot program to fully fund post-inpatient treatment housing and transitional living in a limited setting for individuals with substance use disorder.
  • Senate Resolution 200 and House Resolution 86, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers and Rep. Adam Bowling respectively, were adopted to recognize March 11, 2021 as Social Determinants of Addiction Recovery Day and highlight the importance of a comprehensive, long-term approach to recovery.
  • House Bill 219, sponsored by Rep. Danny Bentley, advances the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Harm Reduction Strategy by making syringes and naloxone easier to purchase at Kentucky pharmacies.
  • House Bill 140, sponsored by Rep. Deanna Frazier, keeps in place the telehealth services that were expanded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes telehealth appointments for individuals experiencing and diagnosed with substance use disorders.
  • House Bill 50, sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser, ensures Kentucky health plans are complying with federal regulations that require them to cover services related to mental health conditions and substance use disorders the same way they cover services for physical health conditions.
  • House Bill 48, sponsored by Rep. Danny Bentley, creates a reimbursement structure to ensure pharmacists are properly reimbursed for the in-scope services they provide, including treatment for substance use disorders.
  • House Bill 7, sponsored by Rep. Adam Bowling, establishes a framework for communities to become “recovery ready,” bringing much-needed consistency to local substance use prevention, treatment and recovery efforts.
  • House Bill 126, sponsored by Rep. Ed Massey, raises the felony theft threshold from $500 to $1,000, which will remove barriers for low-level offenders and give more Kentuckians a second chance at employment.
  • Senate Bill 84, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, protects women who are pregnant while incarcerated and their babies.


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