House passes measure on moment of silence before school day starts

Published 8:35 am Thursday, February 1, 2024

Legislation that would require moments of silence or reflection at the start of each day in all Kentucky elementary and secondary schools, won passage in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

House Bill 96 is sponsored by Rep. Daniel Fister, R-Versailles, who said the moment of silence would not exceed two minutes and described other provisions to his colleagues on the House floor.

“It would require school boards to send home a letter explaining the moment of silence, and ask the parent or guardian to instruct that student on how to spend that time.”

Rep. Tina Bojanowski, D-Louisville, said she opposed the bill. “What this is, is just a way to push prayer into public schools. However, students can already pray, but simply mentioning prayer in this bill raises Constitutional concerns. When participation is involuntary, courtd are particularly vigilant in monitoring compliance with the establishment clause in elementary and secondary schools.”

The measure was approved 79-17.

Another bill clearing the House was HB 30, designed to prevent suicides aong military veterans living in the state, sponsored by Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland.

“it creates the Kentucky Service Members, Veterans and their families suicide prevention program within the Department of Military Affairs,” Meredith said, ”to operate in collaboration with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and additional community partnerships.”

He mentioned some startling statistics to the chamber. “In 2020, 119 of the 6,146 veteran suicides nationwide were in Kentucky. And over the last three years in Kentucky, we have average somewhere between 100 and 125 veterans suicides. We know the veterans suicide rate is higher than the general population, and this bill is about breaking down barriers between existing resources and getting new ones started.”

Meredith noted, “This won’t change everything, but if it saves one veteran’s life, it’ll be worth it.”

That bill won unanimous passage, as did HB 19, which would expand the requirement to move over or slow down when approaching an emergency or public safety vehicle along the side of the road, to include any disabled vehicle displaying a warning signal.

All three measures now head to the Senate.