Day two of the special session of the General Assembly to provide relief to the area of eastern Kentucky hit hard by flooding last month saw both the House and Senate have the second of three required readings of the bill, possibly clearing the way for final action Friday.
The plan that had been outlined by Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, provided that the Senate bill would be substituted for by the House bill, if the language is identical.
However, that may change, as Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, who represents several of the hardest hit counties, announced he was filing an amendment to the bill.
Smith said if he had known that in the western Kentucky relief bill, he would not have voted for it. “They need all the resources they can get. At this moment, I’m telling you, we need this.”
His amendment will not be taken up until the bill reaches the Senate floor.
The two chambers’ bills, which are currently identical, have three main provisions.
–Allocating $200 million from the Budget Reserve Trust Fund, also known as the “Rainy Day Fund,” to establish Eastern Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies fund, or EKSAFE.
$115 million of that is provided to the Department of Military Affairs Division of Emergency Management to financially support cities, counties, school districts, state agencies and nonprofit or public utility service providers in the disaster areas, as reimbursement for services, personnel and equipment provided during the response and recovery phases; cost of replacement or repair of publicly owned buildings and their contents. This, while they await insurance and FEMA disaster assistance.
$45 million goes to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s highways budget for the state matching funds to pay for bridge and road repairs and replacement.
$40 million to the Department of Education for financial assistance to school districts to support repairs of school building facilities, additional transportation costs for displaced students and wrap-around services for school children and their families recovering from the impacts of the storms and flooding.
–Provide flexibility for school districts in the impacted area, by allowing districts to waive up to 15 instructional days missed, use 20 days of targeted remote instruction, and school calendar flexibility.
The House and Senate Budget Committees will hold a joint meeting at 9 a.m. on Friday, followed by the two chambers convening at 10.