Legislator of the Week: Kentucky State Representative Kim Moser
This week, ALEC and FreedomWorks introduce Kentucky State Representative Kim Moser. Representative Moser is a part of the Criminal Justice Reform Taskforce at ALEC and currently serves as the Director for the Office of Drug Control Policy – an office that works to stem the tide of heroin in her region. Kim was instrumental in helping pass legislation to combat this epidemic. Rep. Moser is a Registered Nurse with a specialty in Neonatal ICU and flight nursing. She is constantly working to implement policies that will save lives and improve the communities she serves. She has 5 sons with her husband of 33 years and two grandchildren.
Why did you run for office?
I ran for office because I saw a great need for someone with a healthcare background to represent my district and ensure that our state is following best practices for quality healthcare. Healthcare, including the substance use and addiction issue, consumes a great deal of our state and country’s resources, and it is important to understand the driving forces behind this. Healthcare and addiction issues affect our state workforce, education, criminal justice system, and families. Having an understanding of the causes greatly improves the ability to influence positive and realistic policy. I am a strong proponent of conservative values and the constitution. I value life at all stages, second amendment rights, and am a common-sense conservative.
In your view, what is the biggest issue facing your state?
A few things…our budget is in crisis. There are many drains on the budget and a few things that I am working on which will have a direct impact on improving it, if passed. First, pension and tax reform are being necessarily addressed this session. We have a severe opioid and addiction crisis in Kentucky. As I said earlier, this affects every segment of our society and can be directly tied to many difficulties in our budget. We spend more than $600 million on corrections each biennium, with this number projected to increase dramatically over the next decade if something is not done to address it..
What project or law are you most proud of?
I sponsored and passed HB 333 last year, which increased penalties on true trafficking of heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and fentanyl-analogues, which are killing our citizens at higher and higher rates every year. Secondly, it imposed a cap on the number of days a prescriber can prescribe opioids for acute pain of 3 days. This allows physician discretion in the prescribing for other conditions, such as chronic pain, cancer, hospice and end of life situations, serious trauma and other medically necessary conditions. This law also allows for the use of FDA approved cannabidiols outside of clinical trials. I am working on Criminal Justice reform, some health related legislation and an ‘Immediate Detention’ bill to allow first-responders to immediately detain an individual in an overdose situation and transport to a hospital. I am also a big proponent of Early Childhood education to break the cycle of addiction, joblessness and to build resilience in our children as a strong preventive measure.
Why is prisoner reentry so important to you and your constituents?
We have a severe jail overcrowding issue in Kentucky, primarily driven by the opioid and addiction problem. Most inmates are eventually released from incarceration, so it is important to ensure that we are truly rehabilitating these people and preparing them to function as law-abiding taxpayers who can hold down a job and support their families. This eliminates long-term reliance on government subsidies and support programs, allowing those programs to be the short-term support measures that they are intended to be. Our Department of Corrections budget is more than $600 Million per year and growing as we expand our prison population. Kentucky now has the 2nd highest rate of incarcerated women in the nation and are among the highest for overall prison growth. We warehouse more parents of children in jail than any other state. Our foster-care system is overburdened and this is tearing families apart. My constituents are facing this devastation in their families every day. We must work together to bring healing to our communities.
How does prisoner reentry reduce the crime rate and make communities safer?
When individuals are treated for their drug addiction, are given job training and are encouraged to continue their education, relapse and recidivism rates dramatically decrease and we effectively eliminate their reasons for being incarcerated in the first place. These individuals no longer steal to support their drug habit, they no longer drive under the influence of drugs, and they have purpose in a job and in parenting their children. Low-level, non-violent offenders should be given these opportunities for our criminal justice system to truly be effective in our corrections. These are human beings, family members, and deserve a second chance to redeem themselves and become productive members of society. I have seen it happen.
Moving forward, what can states do to provide second chances for offenders?
Enhance their re-entry programs and re-evaluate the effectiveness of their rehabilitation efforts and corrections. We should address the impact of a felony record and the negative effects on an individual for the remainder of their life. This disturbs the ability to further one’s education and their employment status. This is a vicious cycle, which can and should be positively interrupted.
Encourage businesses to get involved in providing jobs and support for those reentering the work force is another way to provide second chances. Raise awareness that families are often dealing with these situations in their homes and offer support in the community and work place. Partner with Community Colleges and training programs and improve job opportunities.
Which programs are the most important in allowing for an offender to become a productive member of society?
Criminal Justice reforms that allow individuals to receive effective treatment, and increasing job training and educational opportunities are part of this. Community partnerships with proven outcomes will improve our work force shortage and improve lives.
How has ALEC helped you as a legislator?
It is interesting to see what other states are working on and network with others from around the US on similar issues. ALEC has connected me to resources that help educate on legislative solutions. Sharing the conservative viewpoints on our common interests is valuable.
Can you share a fun fact about yourself that is not in your official bio?
I climb mountains with my husband of 33 years. We have five sons and two grandchildren.