FRANKFORT¾ The deadline to request a mail-in absentee ballot in Kentucky has passed. However, Kentuckians now have the option to vote early in-person. Now through November 2, you can cast your General Election ballot at your local county clerk’s office or a designated location within your county. To find out where you can vote early, visit IWillVote.com.
At these early voting polling locations, you may also drop off your absentee ballot at a secure lockbox if you are concerned about mailing it. To vote early, you will need to bring a government-issued identification card.This year, due to COVID-19 and the backlogs it has created, an expired driver’s license will be accepted as a proper form of identification. Contact your local county clerk’s office to check hours of availability and to see if you need to schedule an appointment. If you plan to go, be sure to protect yourself and others by wearing a mask!
Numerous task forces, boards, and committees met this week ahead of next week’s Interim Joint Committee meetings.
In the Substance Use Recovery Task Force, lawmakers heard testimony on treatment programs and their needs. As the opioid epidemic worsened over the years, the Kentucky General Assembly has allocated funding and passed several bills to combat the crisis and hold dealers accountable.
Mike Cox, president of Isaiah House, shared research with lawmakers that shows money invested in addiction treatment reduces drug-related crime, judicial costs, and medical costs. He also said many health insurance companies only pay for short-term treatment, and many people cannot afford to pay for the long-term treatment, assistance, or care on their own. The biggest issue facing Kentuckians is access to the beds available in treatment centers for patients who are hindered by not being able to afford quality care, he said.
In a further effort to combat drug abuse, Governor Andy Beshear announced $2.8 million for 14 Recovery Kentucky centers across the commonwealth. The funds are directed to help ensure safe, stable housing for those recovering from substance use disorder. Through the Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (CDBG-CV), each center is eligible for up to $200,000. These funds are to help offset costs incurred due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. These funds also help ensure centers can continue services while protecting residents and staff from COVID-19. Genesis recovery in Grayson will benefit from the allocation.
Substance abuse and the opioid epidemic are recurring issues in the commonwealth. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the problem. Many of us are affected on a personal level by substance abuse, whether it be friends or family members. I am hopeful that through federal funds, the resurgence of Kynect, and accessibility, we can truly make a difference when it comes to this problem. I appreciate Gov. Beshear for prioritizing this issue many Kentuckians face.
In the Public Water and Wastewater System Infrastructure Task Force members discussed legislative recommendations from the Kentucky Rural Water Association (KRWA). KRWA suggested the task force continue its work with stakeholders, develop a loan fund, and enhance support for the water resource information system. Officials of KRWA believe by doing so we can get better data, more skilled workers, and see utility savings across the state. As a member of this task force, and being a rural legislator, I will continue to make public water and wastewater a priority, especially for eastern Kentucky.
Also discussed in the Government Contract Review Committee meeting was around-the-clock security for Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Following the Grand Jury’s decision on the Breonna Taylor case, Cameron has been subject to “serious” and “credible threats.” The $300,000 contract that was approved allows for a 24-hour security detail for the Attorney General through the end of the year.
You may remember, earlier this year, a radical group hung an effigy of Gov. Beshear with a noose around the neck steps away from the Capitol and Governor’s Mansion. These sorts of hateful acts are unnecessary and misguided. Criticism of elected officials is always OK. However, death threats are NOT. We must all come together and do better.
As we near the end of Domestic Violence Month, I again reiterate the complex phenomenon knows no gender, social or economic boundaries. Abuse has adverse impacts that can be temporary, lifelong, generational, and sometimes fatal. If you are in an emotional, mental or physical relationship that is abusive, or you need more information, educate yourself. We are fortunate to have facilities and helplines available, here is one, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). There are more online resources for counseling and information, and during these times of isolation, they are much needed and appreciated. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
The upcoming week will certainly be busy with numerous Interim Joint Committee meetings on the agenda. You can access these meetings live, or watch archived committee footage via the Legislative Research Commission’s YouTube page at www.youtube.com/channel/UCmnoJBrwFmd7JK0HA9KcPaw or by searching “Legislative Research Commission” on YouTube. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, I remain accessible by email at Robin.Webb@LRC.KY.GOV.