On March 30, the Kentucky General Assembly failed to pass HB 327 sponsored in the House by Owensboro’s District 13 Rep. DJ Johnson and supported by District 7 Rep. Suzanne Mills.
This bill would have fulfilled a long-standing community priority of Daviess County getting a second Family Court judge on a permanent basis. HB 327 passed the House by an overwhelming bipartisan support of 90-4.
In the Senate, amendments were added to send back to the House for agreement in such a manner to where the House could not agree to the changes. Politics took over. Rather than the Senate approving HB 327, as presented by Rep. Johnson, the bill failed due to the proposed amendments that significantly changed the original bill.
The result of this inaction leaves Daviess County, once again, ignored by Frankfort to address an issue of utmost importance, our abused and neglected children. Children that have just recently went back to in-person school where our great teachers, being the guardians of the most vulnerable, attempt to counsel and report the trauma that COVID-19 caused by having virtual school resulting in cases not being reported or just simply ignored.
I applaud Rep. Johnson and Rep. Miles for their true advocacy of being “a caring adult” that will make a difference in so many lives in the years to come. But yet, a sad day occurred to prevent us from addressing issues with our young so they can become confident and caring adults to reinforce the motto that Owensboro is a “Great Place to Raise a Family.”
Our community will not give up on children that don’t have a voice — and are abused and neglected — by trying each year to get a second Family Court judge to assist in an overloaded judicial system that will become even more overburdened as COVID-19 restrictions lessen allowing teachers and others to attempt to recognize and report the signs of abuse and neglect in children.
We have a duty, each of us, to make certain the most vulnerable know we care about them.
The people of Daviess County deserve a simple answer from our state representatives and senator to the question: Why did Frankfort fail our children?
It was a sad day, but we will continue the good fight until we get a permanent second Family Court judge in Daviess County.
Larry Conder is a former Owensboro city commissioner and former candidate for mayor.