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McCoy update: Interim Joint Committees hear about COVID’s impact on Kentucky

By CHAD MCCOY
50th District State Representative

Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021 — Last week, six legislative committees gathered at the annual Kentucky State Fair in Louisville. It was great to see people from all across the Commonwealth gathering to see the exhibits, attend concerts, and eat tasty fair food. In this week’s legislative update, I would like to share with you a little highlight from legislator’s day at the fair.

CHAD MCCOY

AGRICULTURE. Committee members met to receive an update from the Kentucky Fair Board about the Louisville Metropolitan Area. The area increased efforts to enhance support offered to local businesses, such as restaurants and stores. Members also were briefed on infrastructure modifications. Board members noted, there are over one million square feet of climate controlled space with over 300 acres of outdoor space at the Kentucky Exposition Center. The grounds have shifted focus to constructing and replacing the 50 year plus old gates and asphalt in surrounding areas.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT. Members of the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government met to hear an update on AARP funds for Louisville and firefighter benefits and pay. Louisville Mayor shared the city accrued $388 million in American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) funding that will be instrumental in fighting the local affordable housing crisis and addressing the over 300 chronically homeless people that are located in Louisville. This funding will also be used to create quality job opportunities leading to workforce development in the area and will be instrumental in creating partnerships between hiring agencies and local business. According to updated census data, the metropolitan area is growing at the same rate as the rest of the country.

Members heard reports from the Kentucky Professional Firefighters Association, Kentucky League of Cities, Kentucky Association of Fire Chiefs, and Board of Emergency Services. Legislators were informed about the ongoing crisis with the hazardous workers pay and public pension program. Issues facing pay are similar to those that face the police retention issues in our state. Issues in Kentucky surrounding our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system are personnel retention, which can be attributed to low average pay, dwindling pension benefits, and infrastructure.

HEALTH, WELFARE, FAMILY SERVICE. The IJC Committee on Health and Welfare met to hear a presentation from AppHarvest, and updates on the long term care staffing shortages and hospital availability.

Members gathered in Frankfort for a specially called meeting to discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on childcare, assisted living, and healthcare facilities. The committee was additionally briefed on AditxtScore immune system monitoring. Aditxt is a biotech innovation company with a mission to improve the health of the immune system by developing technologies focused on immune reprogramming and tracking.

This week, the General Assembly finalized preparations for a possible special session. Remember, only the Governor has the power to call the legislature into special session and set the agenda. However, only the legislature is responsible for passing laws. Three legislative committees will met this week to discuss COVID-related issues. Members were engaged in discussions with stakeholders and the Governor’s administration. I look forward to working with everyone to provide our citizens, schools, organizations, and businesses the tools they need to address this pandemic. I would like to share a few highlights from the committee meetings this week.

JOINT LOCAL, STATE GOVERNMENT. Members had a special called joint meeting to discuss the recent Supreme Court ruling on measures passed during the 2021 Legislative Session including, HB 1, SB 1, SB 2, and HJR 77. The committee also heard from both the Kentucky Jailers Association and the Kentucky Department of Corrections to discuss issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Presenters highlighted both the monetary and personnel issues surrounding the current climate in the Campbell County Detention Center. Within the last year, staffing has been cut in half as a result of the hesitation from the workforce. Overtime has cost his detention center $600,000 this year alone. With staffing issues, there have also been logistic hurdles faced due to limited visitation and court proceedings being held virtually.

EDUCATION. Members attended a special meeting to discuss the pandemic-related issues Kentucky school districts and students are facing this fall. Legislatures and education stakeholders continued working collectively to find ways to continue in-person learning opportunities for students across the Commonwealth. Now, with the Delta variant curve ascending, legislators are developing a temporary plan to help districts navigate the surge. Superintendents are asking for more support and flexibility in adjusting as needed to ensure the health and safety of students, including more accommodating remote and hybrid learning options, funding mechanisms, and workforce solutions.

If you would like more information about any of these committees or legislative actions, you can visit the Legislative Research Commission website at legislature.ky.gov.

As always, I hope you will feel free to contact me with any questions or issues. I can be reached here at home anytime or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Please feel free to email me at Chad.McCoy@LRC.KY.GOV.

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