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Senator Max Wise's Legislative Update, Week 2
By Senator Max Wise
We extended the first week of the 2022 Regular Session into last Saturday that allowed for the passage of time-sensitive legislation. This week we wrapped up session late Thursday, providing a four-day weekend for our western Kentucky delegation who are eager to be home as rebuilding our communities continue.
In week two, the General Assembly passed important legislation pertaining to disaster relief for western Kentucky and ensures schools maintain in-person education for as many students as possible amid COVID-19 mitigation efforts remain in place.
Members of the western Kentucky delegation championed Senate Bill (SB) 5, and the remainder of the senators signed on as co-sponsors in a clear show of unity for western Kentucky. SB 5 returned to the Senate as the companion House Bill (HB) 5 extended and clarified COVID-19 provisions signed into law during the 2021 Special Session, which expired on January 1, 2022.
SB 5 provides western Kentucky communities devastated by the recent tornadoes with $200 million in general aid. The Western Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies (SAFE) fund will immediately allocate $45 million, with $15 million of the funds going specifically to temporary housing for displaced families. The remaining $30 million will assist with education needs, bringing a sense of normalcy and much needed stability to children's lives.
The General Assembly also passed House Joint Resolution (HJR) 29, which extends the state of emergency declaration for western Kentucky. Lawmakers contend the governor did not need an extension to continue that state of emergency declared in December, but out of an abundance of caution, passed HJR 29 as yet another display of the legislature's commitment to our part of the Commonwealth.
SB 25 extends and clarifies COVID-19 provisions from the 2021 Special Session as it relates to schools. It also extends some of the more agreeable orders to allow for further mitigation of COVID-19. The bill continues to prioritize in-person learning by providing each school with their own remote instruction days, as opposed to a district-wide allotment. The school may use remote instructional days in a way that suits their particular situation, ensuring and impact to the fewest students when an outbreak occurs. To address staffing shortages, the bill also loosens regulations around state retirement benefits enabling schools to rehire previously retired staff without putting their pensions in jeopardy.
SB 25 maintains legislative remedies first enacted in the 2021 Special Session's SB 1, which initiates a more balanced approach to mitigating COVID-19 in schools, a result of the dedicated collaboration of lawmakers, as opposed to unilateral actions by the governor. SB 25 also contains language added by the House extending emergency provisions related to COVID through April 14, 2022, most notable one provision that allows nurses from out of state to continue practicing in Kentucky without state licensure, a deadline set to expire January 15. The governor signed all three bills into law this week.
Follow the exciting changes taking place by visiting legislature.ky.gov. Live coverage is available through ket.org/legislature; if you miss live committee meetings or legislative action in the Senate and House chambers, archived footage is also available at ket.org/legislature/archives. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Senator Max Wise (R-Campbellsville) represents the 16th District which encompasses Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Russell, Taylor, and Wayne Counties. He is chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and co-chair of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee. Senator Wise also serves as a member of the Senate Standing Committees on Health and Welfare; Agriculture; and Transportation; and is a liaison member of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Education. Additionally, he is a member of the 2022-2024 Budget Preparation and Submission Subcommittee and the Legislative Oversight and Investigations Committee.
This story was posted on 2022-01-15 09:59:47
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