Ky. lawmakers in Frankfort for special session to address EKY flooding

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Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 4:29 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2022 at 6:50 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) - Kentucky lawmakers returned to the state capital Wednesday.

They are expected to vote on a relief plan. Governor Andy Beshear said he and House and Senate leaders have all agreed on a plan to help restore the region after devastating flooding.

“We are committed to making sure our cities and counties don’t go bankrupt in providing the necessary services and repairs that need to be done right now,” Governor Beshear said.

The bill includes a $212 million relief plan that Republicans and Democrats said they agree on, and leaders hope that money is quickly on its way to repair and rebuild washed-out areas.

“We want to make sure there is no lag time. No down time. When people are ready to act, communities are ready to act, these dollars are there,” Speaker David Osborne said.

Senate President Robert Stivers said the General Assembly is prepared to provide aid to cities, counties and schools.

“Our cities and counties are hurting in the worst way. Our collective, nonpartisan effort today is the initial step to bolster local city and county government services impacted by the flood disaster,” President Stivers said. “You should know you have our long-term commitment when we are back in full session in January to address your long-term needs.”

One part of the work will deal with restoring roads, bridges and other infrastructure and the other half will deal with helping schools since the flooding heavily damaged them and their start dates have been pushed back.

“With ensuring we get infrastructure back in place. Water back in places that still don’t have water,” said Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville. “Electricity back. Roads, bridges, tiles.”

Speaker Osborne said $45 million will be used to repair roads and bridges damaged or destroyed in the flood waters. It also will provide flexibility for schools trying to work out their calendars in missing so many days.

“It’s going to provide additional days, 15 waved days, for the schools that’s been impacted. 20 remote days. They will look at the ADA days as far as absenteeism goes,” Blanton added.

According to officials, the full funding includes:

  • $200 million from the Budget Reserve Trust Fund – the state’s $2.7 billion rainy day fund – to EKSAFE.
  • $115 million of that $200 million will be given to the Department of Military Affairs Division of Emergency Management. This will provide financial support to cities, counties, school districts, state agencies and nonprofit or public utility service providers.
  • $45 million of that $200 million will be given to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s highways budget to help pay for bridge and road repairs and replacement.
  • $40 million of that $200 million will be given to the Department of Education for financial help to school districts to make repairs of school building facilities, transportation costs for displaced students and wrap-around services for schoolchildren and their families recovering from the impacts of the flooding.
  • Nearly $12.7 million from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is designated for EKSAFE. These funds will go toward water and sewer infrastructure projects, replacing school facilities and housing sites and mitigating the risk of future flooding.

Lawmakers will work on simultaneous House and Senate bills to approve the package by Friday.

Lawmakers said the relief package will be similar to what was approved in this year’s regular session in the aftermath of the Western Kentucky tornadoes in December 2021.

The bill does not include individual assistance. Speaker Osborne said FEMA is better suited to work with people to offer help on a case-by-case basis.