Legislation seeking to address workforce issues by expanding access to financial assistance passed the House 88-6 Tuesday.
Senate Bill 163, sponsored by Sen. Brandon Storm, loosens some of the restrictions on who can access state financial aid dollars and how those dollars can be utilized.
The legislation removes the statutory ban on individuals with felony records from receiving and utilizing KEES awards and removes broad restrictions on currently-incarcerated Kentuckians with non-violent felonies from accessing state financial aid programs.
It also allows KEES awardees to use their awards at proprietary schools provided that the program falls within one of Kentucky’s top-five high-demand workforce sectors (Advanced Manufacturing, Business/IT, Construction, Healthcare, and Transportation).
The bill passed the House with a Senate committee amendment that removed language that was added to the bill on the Senate floor that would have imposed lifetime bans from state financial aid programs for certain convicted felons. Rep. Ed Massey said removing those prohibitions aligns with the legislature’s goals of supporting successful re-entry through encouraging educational opportunities and employment for ex-felons.
Senate Bill 163 now goes back to the Senate where they will consider concurring with the changes.