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Rep. Tom Burch
Kentucky House of Representatives
District 30 in Southeastern Jefferson County

Biographical Information

 

A Jefferson County native, Rep. Tom Burch served in the United States Navy and graduated from Bellarmine College with a degree in business administration. He retired after nearly 40 years with General Electric Corporation, where he worked as a production control manager.

Representative Burch is married to the former Patty McDevitt. He has five children (Tommy, Terri, Kevin, David and Bonnie), six grandchildren (Shannon, Amber, Cassie, Ian, Michael and Maxwell) and two great-granddaughters, Alissa and Hailey. As a devoted family man, he has focused much of his public service career on strengthening government services for families and children across the Commonwealth.

Representative Burch was first elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1972 and is currently the longest serving House member. He has served as Chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee since 1985. He also serves as a member of the Licensing and Occupations Committee, the Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee, and the Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources.

Many key pieces of legislation have become law under Representative Burch's sponsorship and guidance. He has successfully passed legislation to encourage human organ donations, to increase the availability of corneas for transplantation, to mandate a study of the homeless population in Kentucky, to require family life and parenting education in grades K-12. He has also worked to remove barriers to employment in the public assistance program by allowing recipients to earn additional income without a complete termination of benefits, to support the provision of protective services to abused and neglected children and to increase adoptions, to require state and local agencies to coordinate services provided to severely emotionally disabled children, to provide safe havens and supportive services for abandoned infants, and to expand domestic violence prevention and treatment services.

 Representative Burch also has sponsored — and passed — two historic pieces of legislation relating to health care reform and early childhood development. His early childhood development bill, House Bill 706 from the 2000 General Assembly's regular session, has improved the quality of child care and expanded health services to at-risk children from birth to school age, thereby increasing children's opportunity for success both in school and in life. In 2002, he won passage of House Bill 69, which requires every employee in a long-term care facility to be vaccinated against the flu and other pneumococcal infection. The law also requires vaccinations for residents because of their increased susceptibility to such diseases, which are easily spread. The legislation has saved countless lives and money for elderly and needy Kentuckians.

A highlight of the 2007 General Assembly was passage of a bill Representative Burch sponsored that has been dubbed the "Boni Bill." It is named after Boni Frederick, a state employee from Henderson County who was slain in the fall of 2006 while supervising a home visit between a mother and her child who had been placed in foster care. The bill is intended to help provide a much stronger safety net for social workers.

In 2006, Representative Burch sponsored House Bill 90, which implements a graduated driver's licensing program for Kentucky teenagers and will save lives across the Commonwealth by making them safer, more experienced drivers.

Representative Burch has received many honors, including: Award from the Kidney Foundation for Legislation; Kentucky Association of Homes for Children "Circle of Love" Award; Legislator of the Year, 1990, for Child Support Legislation; Legislation on Behalf of Victims of Domestic Violence Award; Outstanding Legislator, Kentucky Welfare Reform Coalition for Welfare Reform Act; Outstanding Legislator Award for Health Legislation; the Distinguished Service Award, Jefferson County Health Board; the Excellence in Public Health Award, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; the Mental Health Association of Kentucky Award for his 30 years of exemplary leadership; the Friends of Foster Care Award from the Kentucky Organization for Foster Youth; the Circle of Leadership Award from the Kentucky Association of Adult Day Centers; the Nettie Award for his efforts to improve surveillance and control of HIV; the Kentucky Child NOW Destiny Award; the Beth Riddell Advocacy Award; the Carl D. Perkins Award from ARC of Kentucky; the American Heart Association Outstanding Legislator Award; the Paul Mason Memorial Award for his work toward improving public health; the Paul Mason Legislative Advocate for Children Award from the Kentucky PTA; and the State Safety Leadership Award from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Representative Burch has been active in the Kentucky Welfare Reform Coalition, the National Organization for Women, the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, the Home of the Innocents, the Lions Foundation, Kosair Children's Hospital, and the Kentucky Organ Donor Council. He is a board member of Brooklawn Youth Services and helped establish Day Spring, a facility for special-needs residents.

Tom is an active member of St. Bartholomew Church. q