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Ky. lawmakers return to Frankfort to consider flooding relief package

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky lawmakers are gathering in Frankfort to craft a relief package for eastern Kentucky communities impacted by historic flooding late last month.

The special legislative session starts today and will likely last three days. Republican leaders of the legislature have indicated they’ve come to an agreement with Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear over a framework for the package.

According to Beshear’s proclamation calling the session, lawmakers have been tasked with setting aside money for the Eastern Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies (EKYSAFE) fund. Similar to the relief fund set up after last year’s western Kentucky tornadoes, the new initiative would help local governments, nonprofits and utilities rebuild after the disaster.

Money could be used to rebuild or repair government buildings, clean up debris, fix roads and pay for work and equipment during the recovery.

Beshear also directed lawmakers to provide aid to school districts in the affected area, calling for lifting requirements that deal with attendance, leave for teachers and remote instruction.

The relief package will provide flexibility for both eastern and western Kentucky school districts relating to funding that’s tied to average daily attendance.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said lawmakers have put politics aside and will address the region’s immediate needs.

“The General Assembly is prepared to provide aid to schools, cities, counties and other local government agencies as we repair what we can and rebuild what our communities need,” Stivers wrote in a statement.

Only the governor can call a special legislative session—a time when state lawmakers can pass laws or appropriate money outside of the regular legislative session. The next regular session begins on Jan. 3 and will last until March 30. During a special session, legislators can’t pass laws that go beyond the scope of thegovernor’s proclamation.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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