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Public hearing to determine who gets essential worker 'bonus pay' set for Dec. 6

Nurses at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset are among Kentucky's essential workers during the pandemic. Many have worked extra shifts as hospitals struggle to fill vacant nursing positions.

Federal money is coming into Kentucky that will be used for what Governor Andy Beshear is calling ‘hero pay’ to reward essential workers who have been serving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kentucky’s Democratic caucus is holding the first of two public hearings on Dec. 6 at 12:30 p.m. central, 1:30 p.m. eastern time at the Capitol Annex in Frankfort to get suggestions on how to distribute funding.

The hearing will be streamed by the Kentucky House Democrats on their Facebook Live page.

The public hearings are hosted by the Essential Workers Work Group, chaired by State Representative Buddy Wheatly of Covington.

House Democratic Floor Leader Joni Jenkins, who represents the 44th District, said Kentucky is expected to get approximately $400 million in federal funds for this special allocation.

Jenkins said so many Kentuckians have been on the front lines during the pandemic, it’s important to get extensive input from the public to identify essential workers in addition to many obvious ones, such as health care workers, police, firefighters, grocery store workers and teachers.

“Narrowing down what is an essential worker, what it meant to work during the pandemic, is that for the entire two years or it is a period of time? We thought it was very important that this not be done behind closed doors,” said Jenkins.

The second public hearing is set for Dec. 15.

Jenkins said the work group is expected to submit their findings and recommendations to Gov. Beshear by the end of December or early into the new legislative session in January.

She said the governor might include bonus pay for essential workers as part of the state budget, or perhaps as a separate allocation.

Those who want to testify during the public hearings, or submit written testimony, can contact Shellee Hayden in the Kentucky House Democratic Caucus office, or email her at

Written testimony will be accepted through the end of December.

Copyright 2021 WKU Public Radio

Rhonda Miller began as reporter and host for All Things Considered on WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans.
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