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Ky. lawmakers consider bill proposing millions of dollars for tornado relief efforts

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 10:56 AM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Some Kentucky lawmakers are proposing millions of dollars for the tornado relief efforts in western Kentucky.

A bill earmarking at least $45 million, of what could be as much as $200 million, cleared its first hurdle on Monday.

House Bill 5 passed a budget committee Monday and it is sponsored by House Speaker David Osborne, along with several lawmakers from the hard-hit areas of western Kentucky.

“House Bill 5 was designed to give quick and immediate relief while we are waiting on insurance companies and FEMA to react,” said Rep. Richard Heath, R-Mayfield.

The language of the bill talks about $200 million of aid, but it only specifically mentions $45 million of direct aid. Most of that $45 million will go to the Kentucky Department of Education for what’s called “wrap-around services,” everything from mental health services to after-school activities.

Another $15 million will assist in FEMA housing units.

Governor Andy Beshear was asked about that bill during Monday’s 4 p.m. briefing. He calls it a good start but says more is needed.

“Basically, it says we are only providing $45 million now, and that’s $15 million for the travel trailers. But it also talks about money we won’t exactly know ahead of time, what it will take to hook them up and make them successful. That’s not in there,” said Gov. Beshear.

The bill did pass committee unanimously though and now goes to the full House.

A resolution that will extend the governor’s state of emergency for western Kentucky is also moving through the legislature after it cleared a committee Monday.

Governor Andy Beshear also announced Tuesday the state has received the single largest contribution to Team Western Kentucky Fund after a number of high-level auctions in the bourbon distillery business.

“And we started to get a collection of incredibly rare bourbons,” said Steve O’Daniel with Prominent Games. “What this did, it brought people out of the woodwork, people looking at their bank accounts and tryin’ to figure out what they could do to help. Everyone in the country who is a bourbon fan wanted to help.”

Bourbon was auctioned off and, Tuesday, more than $3 million dollars was presented to Gov. Beshear to help with various needs from the December storms. Some of the barrels went for several hundred thousand dollars each.

Representative Heath tells us House Bill 5 will likely face final passage later this week, and he hopes it will be signed into law by Governor Beshear. Similar legislation in Senate Bill 5 is also moving through the legislature.

Both have emergency clauses and will take effect with the governor’s signature.

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