LEGISLATIVE UPDATE Submitted By Robin Webb 10-30-2020

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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE Submitted By Robin Webb 10-30-2020 2

FRANKFORT¾ The 2020 General Election is finally upon us. On Tuesday, November 3, voters who did not vote early or by mail will head to the polls and cast their ballots. If you plan on voting in person on Election Day, you can find a polling location near you by visiting the Kentucky Secretary of State’s website at https://www.sos.ky.gov/elections/Pages/Polling-Locations.aspx

The polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Make sure to wear a mask when voting in person to protect others. The last day to vote early is Monday, November 2. It is imperative to make your voice heard, so be sure to fulfill your civic duty. Be a voter!

There is more grim news this week as the state continues to grapple with significant increases in cases and deaths involving COVID-19. Kentucky continues to surpass previously set daily highs as we now enter the third spike since the initial outbreak. On Tuesday, Governor Andy Beshear announced we hit the single-day record for cases with over 1,800 reported. In an attempt to decrease the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Beshear recommended new guidelines for “Red Zone” counties. A county in the “Red Zone” has 25 or more average daily cases per 100,000 people. The recommendations include:

  • Government offices not providing critical services should have their workers perform duties virtually;
  • Employers should have employees who can work from home effectively do so as much as possible;
  • Reducing in-person shopping and returning to curbside pickup as much as possible;
  • Ordering takeout, avoiding dine-in restaurants or bars;
  • Prioritizing businesses that follow COVID-19 prevention measures;
  • Not hosting gatherings of any size;
  • Avoiding nonessential activities outside the home;
  • Pausing high-contact sports, minimizing crowds at sporting events; and 
  • Following all other COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

You can check to see the “zone” status of any county or view other Kentucky COVID-19 statistics and information at kycovid19.ky.gov.

In the Interim Joint Committee on State Government meeting, members heard testimony on measures that would grant state employees paid parental leave and annual cost-of-living raises.

The prefiled legislation would allow state employees a paid 12-week leave of absence for the birth or adoption of a child. Employees would have to work for the state for at least 52 weeks to be eligible for the proposed benefit. Studies have proven the benefits of maternal and parental leave in the development of an infant. This bill will give families time to focus on their kids and strengthen the family unit.

Another proposal would provide an annual cost-of-living raise for state employees. The cost of cost-of-living adjustment would be the average of the consumer price index for two calendar years. State employees’ wages have been stagnant for decades. In testimony, sponsors said under current state law they are supposed to receive a 5 percent salary increment increase every year, but that it hasn’t happened since 2001. 

At the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) summit, Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers and Gov. Beshear announced over $8 million in funding for Eastern Kentucky projects. If approved, a portion of the funds will go to the King’s Daughters Health System expansion project, which will receive $4 million for the purchase of health care equipment. According to the Governor’s office, the move is expected to result in the creation of 250 full-time jobs and mitigate job losses and concerns about availability of care in the region after the closure of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital. This is great news for health care and jobs in our region.

Some road repairs will soon make their way to Carter County, which was the recipient of transportation funding awarded by Gov. Beshear this week. The $194,928 will go to resurfacing efforts on Huffs Run and West Brinegar Road. Weathering and daily commuting have taken their toll on these roads. I appreciate the Governor and his administration allocating these much-needed funds for these improvements. 

As the state braces for the third wave of COVID-19 infections, we have reached a critical juncture in our state. With Halloween, Election Day, the holidays, and cooler weather afoot, we must double down our efforts to keep our families, friends, and neighbors safe. Keep your distance, and mask up, Kentucky. We will get through this together. Have a happy and safe Halloween!

As always, I will do my best to keep you updated and informed about what is happening in Frankfort. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, I remain accessible by email at Robin.Webb@LRC.KY.GOV.

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