Officials at Town Hall forum tackle hot topics

By: Samantha Saracino Email
By: Samantha Saracino Email

A new year has brought a number of hot button issues to the table in this year's short legislative session. Several lawmakers came together in Pikeville tonight to talk about many of them.

Numerous issues came up at the town hall forum but everything always came back to the economy.

"At the end of the day it's about money. What can we do to benefit our people back home to jump start the economy. How can we enable more job creation and put people back to work," said W. Keith Hall, representative for the 93rd district.

The whole panel chose education as a key factor to do that.

"We know education is the secret to people being able to get more jobs and the economy picking up so thats something we have to continue funding and supporting," said Hubert Collins, representative for the 97th district.

"For the future of Kentucky, education is the key for job creation. Education is the key to prevent poverty. A person with a college education makes twice as more in their lifetime than someone without a college education," Hall explained.

One problem that was addressed was the controversy over coal in Washington; an industry lawmakers say is very important to Eastern Kentucky.

"Right now the EPA is on the verge of seriously damaging the industry that is most vital to this region and they can't tell you why," said Senator Ray Jones, 31st district.

The elected officials are aware of the opportunities coal has in this area.

"There's so many spin-off jobs with the industry. You're talking about equipment. You're talking about mechanics. You're talking about a number of jobs that could be affected," said Leslie Combs, representative for the 94th district.

And while this may be a short session, legislators say they are hoping to address as much as they can.

Another idea getting a lot of attention in Frankfort is a proposal that would require random drug testing for adults who get food stamps, medicaid or other state assistance. The lawmakers tonight say they generally support this idea, but still had some concerns that needed to be addressed.

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