News From Frankfort: Senator Johnnie Turner’s Legislative Update
Published 7:25 am Sunday, March 6, 2022
As we wrap up week nine of the 2022 Regular Session, much is happening in the world.
Often we get caught up in challenges we face nationally and even those challenges abroad. Rightfully so. The current topic most critical is the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Bipartisan Senate Resolution 153 was adopted by the Senate this week, and spoke to the importance of freedom and standing in unity with the Ukrainian people.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky supports Ukrainian and its right to self-determination, as we have a shared love of freedom and self-governance. America remains the shining city on a hill, and as proud Americans we wish for nothing more than the same independence and love for liberty we share at home to be spread across the globe.
Since declaring independence from Russia in 1918 and being freed from the grip of the communist Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine has developed a rich culture, language and history, entirely unique to itself. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Christianity was introduced to the nation and allowed to flourish. Sen. Robby Mills (R-Henderson) shared a touching story on the Senate floor about his travels to Ukraine during that time.
Like Kentucky, Ukraine is geographically blessed and is rich with natural resources, which are the primary drivers of its economy. These national treasures are to be enjoyed by the Ukrainian people, not to be seized by an authoritarian Russia and used to expand its wealth and power. As a local way Kentuckians can stand against Russia and for Ukrainian sovereignty, our robust spirits industry can cease selling and purchasing Russian vodka and other goods. This is a wonderful opportunity to shop local and support Kentucky and United States produced liquor products.
With Ukraine being the largest Eastern European country, its independence is in our country’s best national security interest, especially as Russia and China strive to become a global hegemony. We must stand for the values our republic best exemplifies and alongside the people of Ukraine against an aggressive, unpredictable and dictatorial Russia. The balance between human prosperity and freedom and human suffering and subjugation is constantly shifting. Despite fears and anxieties of foreign unrest, Americans must continue to defend the principles that best enable us to live out the rights we are each endowed with.
Another bipartisan measure that passed the senate this week was Senate Bill 194, legislation set to send a rebate to all income tax-paying Kentuckians. This money is not a stimulus, but comes from a budget surplus resulting from an excess of federal money flowing into the state, as well as conservative spending over the past couple of years. These funds are currently sitting in the commonwealth’s coffers and are not tied to future projections. During a time of rapidly rising inflation, this bill puts hard-earned money back into the pockets of families and allows them to save or spend that money as best fits their needs.
Finally, I want to talk about the Senate passing House Bill 4.
The good people of the 29th district sent me to Frankfort to protect their best interest, and to pass bills that will benefit the region and allow families the opportunity to prosper. More often than not, I prefer to work behind the scenes to craft good bills that will benefit our rural communities. However, when legislation comes up that I feel will hurt Kentucky’s working class families, I will not stand by quietly and toe the party line.
I have fought for the working people of our rural communities my entire life. At a time when our people are already hurting from the effects of inflation to outrageous power bills, I cannot in good faith support a bill that will drastically hurt good honest people who are going through hard times.
This bill will drastically reduce the number of weeks of unemployment that a laid-off person is eligible for. In addition, it uses “indexing” to tie eligibility requirements to the state unemployment rate rather than the regional unemployment rate.
Clearly, eastern Kentucky has suffered far more in the last two decades than the larger cities like Louisville, Lexington and London where there are large factories, more job opportunities, and a shortage of labor. I feel that this bill will unfairly force eastern Kentuckians into lower-paying jobs or, at worst, force more families to leave the region to seek jobs in other parts of the state.
People in Frankfort often forget that our great commonwealth was built on the backs of eastern Kentucky, from our coal miners to the loggers. Every week that I write to you, I always stress that I am fighting for your best interest, and rest assured I mean it.
As always, it’s an honor to represent you in Frankfort. If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please contact me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Johnnie.Turner@lrc.ky.gov.
Senator Johnnie Turner (R-Harlan) represents the 29th District, which includes Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Knott, and Letcher counties. Sen. Turner is vice-chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. He also serves as a member of the Senate Standing Committees on Transportation and Judiciary.