Safe Haven Act, leave for adoptive parents among laws effective Tuesday

Posted at 2:54 PM, Jun 29, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As new laws Kentucky’s legislators wrote during their winter session go into effect Tuesday, there was, perhaps, no stronger advocate of HB-210 than Miranda Combs.

“We as adoptive parents need just as much time as a birth parent to bond with our child and we deserve that time. I’m so glad this has happened,” she said of the bill which will require employers to offer the same maternity or paternity leave they currently offer for birth children.

Combs serves as the director of communications for Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams (he wrote Kentucky’s election reform, which became the law as of today, too).

Combs and her husband adopted a child in 2019, so she had a very personal stake in the passage of this bill, which didn’t move through the House and Senate in 2020. She said roughly 9,000 children are either in foster care, or up for adoption in Kentucky and many of them were born to drug-addicted mothers, which makes the need for that bonding time even more critical.

“The bonding time is not only for the children but the parents too. They’re going through a lot with the babies in regards to possible withdrawal,” she added.

She also said her two sons needed the time to bond too.

“I remember them not knowing what to do, and just staring at this baby, like, ‘I can’t believe you guys did this,’ she joked.

There are some additional laws that are aimed at benefitting children. HB-155 is part of the Safe Haven Act, which allows a parent who’s out of options to leave a newborn with a firehouse, police station, or hospital as long as a staff member is on-site. Now you might find receptacles at some of these locations. The boxes will allow for an anonymous drop-off which will automatically trigger a silent alarm, alerting personnel that a baby has been dropped off. The boxes aren’t a mandate and won’t immediately be present at any of Lexington’s 24 firehouses, so if you don’t see one, it doesn’t mean you should walk away.

“All of these stations have these signs,” said Battalion Chief Jordan Saas of the Lexington Fire Department. He was referring to the “Safe Place” signage at Fire Station No. 13 on Leestown Road.

“We are designated as a safe place location, and in reading through this new law we are abiding by every aspect of that law, with the exception of having those new boxes,” Saas continued.

LEX 18 Political analyst Bob Babbage wasn’t shocked to see legislation that stripped the governor of some of their power as it relates to executive orders, or when it comes to replacing vacant U.S. Senate seats when the need arises.

“Other states too, were questioning the power of the governor in the midst of a pandemic,” the former secretary of state said.

Babbage also feels some of this legislation could still be subject to further review in Frankfort.

“Maybe the circuit court there, or perhaps our court of appeals and or the supreme court will ultimately rule on whether those laws fit the constitutional purposes for our state,” he offered.

In other words, standby as it relates to some of those measures surrounding Beshear’s power because if there’s one thing the former attorney general is good at, it’s arguing the law before judges.

Babbage also cited improved infrastructure across the state as being a critical component to come from this 2021 legislative session.

“We need that broadband to extend for the final mile,” he said of what we learned while many of us were working and learning remotely during the lockdown.

Click here for a list of more Kentucky laws that take effect on Tuesday.