The House unanimously approved Senate Bill 64, sending the KLC initiative to Governor Andy Beshear. Representative Walker Thomas (R-Hopkinsville) carried the measure to provide confidentiality protections for first responder peer counseling groups.
Senator Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green) introduced the measure after learning his home city tried to create a peer counseling group, but state law only provides protections through the Kentucky Fire Commission and the Department of Criminal Justice Training. Senate Bill 64 includes police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services (EMS) staff, and dispatchers who receive counseling on the local level.
“Many first responders benefit from counseling to help them deal with the issues they face on the job, but finding a counselor with first responder experience can be challenging,” said Thomas on the House floor. “Many local governments have found peer counseling the best option. However, there is an obstacle to providing that type of support. That is what Senate Bill 64 addresses.”
Conversations shared during peer counseling programs would remain confidential except in the case of an explicit threat of suicide; threat to a clearly identified or reasonably identifiable victim; information on the abuse or neglect of a child, older adult, or vulnerable person; admission of criminal conduct; or information required by law to be disclosed. The protections mirror any counselor-client privilege provided under Kentucky’s Rules of Evidence.