Gov. Beshear joined by state lawmakers to sign election, COVID-19 relief bills

Governor Beshear, flanked by state leaders, signs an election bill Wednesday morning, April 7,...
Governor Beshear, flanked by state leaders, signs an election bill Wednesday morning, April 7, 2021.(Governor Andy Beshear)
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 9:55 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) - Governor Andy Beshear, Secretary of State Michael Adams and members of House and Senate leadership held a news conference Wednesday morning. The signing of the bills helped determine where the funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act is planned to be distributed. These bills are planned to create jobs, build better schools, expand broadband and invest in infrastructure, including clean drinking water.

Elected officials of both parties, including Senate President Robert Stivers, Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins and Secretary of State Michael Adams, joined Gov. Beshear in the Capitol Rotunda for today’s bill signings.

You can watch that below:

The Governor first signed a bill, House Bill 574, allowing a minimum of three days of early voting, along with an online absentee ballot request portal, and requiring ballot drop boxes. This will help expand voting opportunities in Kentucky.

“Voting is the bedrock of democracy,” Gov. Beshear said. “I look forward to continuing this work with lawmakers and Secretary of State Michael Adams.”

The Governor signed four bills related to American Rescue Plan Act funds:

House Bill 320: This bill will help bring reliable, high-speed internet access to help in education, health care, and economic development.

These bills will allow for $300 million to go into the Broadband Deployment Fund to help improve broadband internet infrastructure in rural and underserved parts of the state. $140 million has also been allocated for full-day kindergarten.

“These bills help us address the stories we’ve heard about kids sitting in the parking lot of a McDonald’s so they can complete their schoolwork during this incredibly difficult year,” said Sen. McGarvey. “The infrastructure that’s coming to Kentucky, the building we’re going to do, is not just for today, it’s for tomorrow.”

House Bill 382 will fund a range of vital initiatives, including full-day kindergarten and the reopening of a medical examiner’s office in Northern Kentucky, which has been without an office since March 2018.

“Everyone knows my administration is an education first administration, and this is a key component,” Gov. Beshear said of state funding for full-day kindergarten. “Education helps break cycles of poverty, and early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make for Kentucky’s future.”

This bill will also help fund $575 million to repay the Federal Unemployment Insurance Loan.

Senate Bill 36 will provide $250 million in grant funds to improve water system infrastructure in the state.

“I believe that clean drinking water is a basic human right,” said Gov. Beshear. “In addition to laying new pipelines and improving sanitary water systems and modernizing infrastructure we are going to do this without raising rates and while creating 3,800 to 5,800 direct and indirect jobs.”

House Bill 556: provides for major investments in schools, providing $127 million in funds for the construction of new schools, with $75 million earmarked for vocational schools. The bill also includes $20 million for funding rural hospitals.

“I think this could be one of the biggest tools for selling our park system,” said Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester). “It’s a great opportunity that we put all these things together, house and senate, Republican and Democrat, that actually creates an economic dynamic for future expansion.”

House Bill 574: This bill with make it easier for Kentuckians to participate in the electoral process while creating security measures intended to preserve election integrity.

It will allow for early voting, voting centers and an online portal for requesting absentee ballots. The bill also requires drop boxes, establishes recount procedures and requires voting machines to create a paper trail of votes cast.

“I firmly believe that we should be making it easier for Kentuckians to vote and participate in the democratic process,” said Gov. Beshear. “This new law represents important first steps to preserve and protect every individual’s right to make their voice heard.”

Several statements from our state leaders:

“This was a confirmation of what is possible when government is working together,” said Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville). “What you saw the last two days of the legislative session was the Democrats and Republicans coming together and saying ‘how can we help Kentuckians?’”

“Today is a great day as we move forward,” said House Minority Floor Leader Joni Jenkins (D-Louisville).

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