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Lawmakers fail to approve bonding for Rupp project

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The 60-day work session ended at midnight for lawmakers in Frankfort. The general assembly passed measures affecting anything from healthcare to human trafficking.

One of the more notable headlines from the capitol is an action legislators didn't take.

City leaders in Lexington and representatives in Frankfort made their voices heard when it came to getting state-backed bonding to help fund the multimillion dollar renovation of Rupp Arena, but they fell short of the results they wanted.

The measure to receive about $80 million dollars in funds for the project passed the House, but stalled in the Senate Tuesday night. Senate leaders said they didn't get the financial plans early enough for the estimated $310 million renovation, and that they still had questions.

Several local and state leaders weighed in on the decision including Governor Steve Beshear and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. Also voicing his opinion about the lack of action in the session was Lexington center chair, Brent Rice.

In a statement released overnight, Rice said, "Rupp is nearly a 40-year-old facility and we can't attract the concerts, conventions, meetings and other NCAA athletic events that our competitor facilities do today. We just can't compete with a 1970's-era facility. This outcome is sad for UK basketball fans and those people who would have had good jobs in the Rupp District." Rice went on to say, "It's hard for me to understand how it's fair for Lexington and UK to be shut out when Louisville has been given $75 million for the Yum! Center and $56 million for their convention center. But we'll work to find a way forward because this project is too important to give up on."

The general assembly did pass a $5.2 billion dollar road plan bill to be signed by Governor Beshear, that covers the next two fiscal years. Millions from that plan will be seen on projects in Fayette County.

One bill that failed to make a vote was the anti-heroin bill that aims to provide more treatment options for addicts and toughen penalties for dealers. House speaker Greg Stumbo even mentioned the need for the governor to call a special session to address that issue.

We have a call in to the Governor's representatives to see if there is a possibility of a special session. We have yet to hear any word back.


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