Legislation to bring more oversight and transparency to the state’s area development districts, entities using state and federal dollars on aging programs and employment services, passed the House State Government Committee unanimously on Thursday.
House Bill 438, sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom of Lexington, seeks to place more scrutiny on the spending and programming of the state’s 15 area development districts (ADDs) and require additional financial reporting. The bill also brings the ADDs under the same oversight rules that have long governed other state agencies and local governments.
In a press conference about the bill, Westrom highlighted that the bill:
- Bans bonuses or any other one-time payments to any ADD employee.
- Protects “whistleblowers” in accordance with state law.
- Requires advertising of an open executive director position with adequate notice and sufficient time for interested candidates to apply.
- Requires the ADDs to follow federal and state procurement statutes and regulations.
- Examines all 15 ADDs within the next four years, to determine if their policies and internal controls are adequate. Further examinations would follow if necessary.
The bill also calls for a review of the ADDs every four years with follow up reviews if problems are found as well as requires the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet to prepare and submit a detailed financial report of the ADDs to the Legislative Research Commission and others.