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Hemp Derivatives, Gambling, and Gender Affirming Care among laws taking effect this week in Kentucky

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

LOUISVILLE, KY (RIOT) - A number of new Kentucky laws will be going into effect later this week and will be impacting topics such as Hemp Derivatives, Gambling, and Gender Affirming Care.

Kentucky legislators passed over 170 bills during the 2023 session. The Kentucky Constitution mandates that new laws take effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns for the year. This means the majority of these laws will be taking effect June 29.

Among the laws going into place in Kentucky on Thursday, according to a release from the Legislative Resource Center:

Child Abuse: Senate Bill 229 seeks to ensure that law enforcement, social services and other authorities are properly notified and are communicating with each other in cases of child abuse. It also requires agencies under investigation to cooperate with authorities.

Child Murder: House Bill 249 makes the intentional killing of a child under age 12 an aggravating circumstance. That ensures that a person who is guilty of killing a child would either be subject to life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

Hemp Derivatives: House Bill 544 directs the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services to develop regulations related to hemp derivatives, maybe most notably Delta-8 THC by Aug. 1. This would include regulations on product testing, packaging and labeling, along with prohibitions that prevent anyone under 21 from buying or possessing derivative products. This was following years of battling Kentucky Department of Agriculture over legality of the products. Kentuckians will likely not see many changes until the cabinet's regulations are finalized and implemented, despite it's effective date of June 29.

DUI Restitution: Senate Bill 268 or "Melanie's Law" allows courts to order restitution (child support) for children whose parents are killed or permanently disabled by an intoxicated driver.

Fentanyl Test Strips: House Bill 353 decriminalizes fentanyl test strips and removes them from state prohibitions on drug paraphernalia. These paper test strips can detect if a small batch of drugs includes the deadly opioid.

Gender and Sexuality: Senate Bill 150 is a wide-ranging bill focused on health services and school policies related to gender and human sexuality. Many provisions in the bill took effect immediately, including the portions on school policies. However, the June 29 effective date applies to a section of the bill that bans puberty blockers, hormones and gender-related surgeries for minors.

Gray Machines: House Bill 594 clarifies that "gray machines" or "skill games," are illegal in the state of Kentucky. The devices are called gray machines because they have operated in a gray area in the state's gambling laws. Under HB 594, anyone who manages or owns the machines could be subject to a $25,000 fine per device.

Incest: House Bill 78 better defines Kentucky's laws against incest by prohibiting a person from having intercourse with his or her parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, great-grandparent, great-grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, brother, sister, first cousin, ancestor or descendant.

Juvenile Detention: House Bill 3 requires that if a juvenile is charged with a violent felony they be detained up to 48 hours pending a hearing with a judge. The bill also seeks to improve parental accountability, increase mental health interventions and further enhance options for restorative justice. Other provisions provide funds toward the reopening the Jefferson County Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

Medical Cannabis: While Senate Bill 47 doesn't take effect until 2025, we felt it was important to mention as it will create an avenue for those in need to access to cannabis as medicine. While it's mostly edible form and smoking the flower will still be illegal, this is a major step for the state.

Motor Vehicle Racing: Senate Bill 96 sets up a structure for local officials to grant permits for motor vehicle racing events as long as requirements are met on insurance, security and emergency services. Temporarily closure of roadways and waivers of traffic regulations are no available for these events.

Police Wellness: House Bill 207 arms law enforcement agencies to supply confidential wellness programs to employees in order to support better mental health. It further protects records of a these wellness program from subpoenas and open records requests.

Religious Freedom in Schools: House Bill 547 codifies religious freedoms for faculty and staff of public schools. It also includes the right to engage in religious expression or prayer during breaks and further allows them to display religious items in personal spaces.

Sex Offenders: Senate Bill 80 prohibits registered sex offenders from operating mobile businesses within 1,000 feet of schools, daycares, and public playgrounds or swimming pools. One section of this bill related to sex offender residences does not take effect until next year.

Sports Wagering: House Bill 551 creates a structure to regulate and tax sports betting in Kentucky under the guidance of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Only licensed tracks will be permitted to obtain a sports wagering license, and the bill sets up a fund to address gambling addiction. While the bill technically takes effect on Thursday, Kentuckians will not see many changes until the racing commission finalizes and implements regulations related to sports wagering.

Student Discipline: Under House Bill 538, school boards are required to adopt policies related to expelling students who pose a safety threat to the well-being of others and disciplining students who have physically assaulted, battered or abused personnel or other students off school property if the incident is likely to disrupt the educational process.

Teacher Shortages: House Bill 319 aims to shrink the shortage of educational professionals in Kentucky and solidify the state's place in the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact. The compact seeks to lessen licensing barriers for teachers moving interstate. This bill also mandates the Kentucky Department of Education to establish a statewide job posting system.

Tracking Devices: Senate Bill 199 bans, with some exceptions, the installation of tracking devices on any motor vehicles without the prior consent of the vehicle's owner or lessee.

We would like to reiterate that there were over 170 bills passed in the 2023 Kentucky Legislative Session. This is just a small cross-section of some that we felt were important to note, but if you feel that any additional bills merit a closer look, feel free to notify us via email at and we'd be happy to update the article.


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