Gov. Andy Beshear has called a special session to address a relief package after historic flooding which ravaged eastern Kentucky July 26-30. The act may be cited as the Eastern Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies, or the EKSAFE Fund.
The Senate will gavel in for the 2022 Extraordinary Session at 3p.m. on August 24. Lawmakers will allocate funding to aid school districts, county and city governments and local residents in impacted communities.
“The General Assembly is prepared to provide aid to schools, cities, counties and other local government agencies as we repair what we can and rebuild what our communities need,” said Senate President Robert Stivers. “As we did for western Kentucky, we have cast politics aside and will address the immediate needs of those who have endured so much.”
State funds will provide financial support while recipients are waiting on reimbursements from FEMA. These funds have been approved by the General Assembly and will positively affect the real cost of rebuilding communities. Any state funds made available must qualify for reimbursement from FEMA.
Senate leadership visited affected areas to assess the damage and listen to local eastern Kentucky officials tell what the regional needs are following the devastating flooding. Local county officials, legislative leadership, eastern Kentucky House and Senate members and state executives have already drafted a comprehensive relief package for legislators to consider.
Bills with mirroring language will simultaneously chart a course through the legislative process in both the House and Senate before culminating in a single bill. Lawmakers intend to deliver the EKSAFE Fund to the Governor’s desk for signature as soon as possible. This package will provide relief similar to western Kentucky residents impacted by the December 2021 tornadoes that ripped through that area of the state.
Kentucky’s Constitution dictates the part-time citizen General Assembly will return for its regular 30-day session in January 2023, when lawmakers will better understand the disaster’s long-term ramifications.
President Joe Biden declared a disaster in eastern Kentucky on July 29, allowing for federal aid to supplement commonwealth and local recovery efforts. Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike, and Wolfe Counties were included in the President’s declaration.
“Just as we did for Western Kentucky earlier this year, the Kentucky House Democratic Caucus stands ready to do whatever is needed to help our friends and neighbors in Eastern Kentucky rebuild following last month’s devastating and deadly flooding. This is a project that will be measured in years, not months, but we are convinced that, by working together, we can do more than help this region get back on its feet; we can make it even stronger.” – Kentucky House Democratic Caucus Leaders Joni Jenkins, Derrick Graham and Angie Hatton