Lawmakers start 2022 special session, lay out details on flood relief package

As part of the 2022 special legislative session to help flood-damaged Eastern Kentucky, Senate President Robert Stivers and Rep. John Blanton testified Wednesday in front of the Joint House and Senate Appropriations and Revenue committee to detail House Bill 1.

Conversations between the General Assembly and the governor’s office have taken place on providing relief since the flooding started in Eastern Kentucky in late July. President Stivers said House Bill 1 will be similar to the legislation passed in the 2022 legislative session following the December 2021 tornados.

“This is the first step, in my opinion,” Rep. Blanton said. “We are going to see more and more needs as time goes on.”

The flood relief package includes:

  • Establishes the Eastern Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies fund (EKSAFE)
  • Appropriates $200m from the state’s Budget Reserve Trust Fund to EKSAFE
    • $75m for “financial assistance” in accordance with Section 1 of the Act
    • $40m for advances to “school districts and nonprofit or public utility service providers”
    • $40m for school districts
    • $45m for infrastructure (to KYTC)
  • Appropriates $12.6m in ARPA funds (State Fiscal Recovery Fund) to EKSAFE for water and sewer infrastructure repairs related to the flooding
  • Addresses issues with attendance days requirements, instructional hours, and remote learning for students in districts impacted by the flooding

Additionally, the legislation allows funds in the Western Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies fund (WKSAFE) to carry over through June 30, 2026.

The committee heard House Bill 1 for discussion only, and it is expected they will vote on the legislation later in the week. Read a summary of the legislation here.

Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts released the following statement as the details of House Bill 1 were announced:

“On behalf of Kentucky’s business community, the Chamber strongly supports the EKSAFE bill introduced today that will provide much-needed resources for those impacted by the devastating flooding in Eastern Kentucky. We are pleased stakeholders and policymakers have worked collaboratively and look forward to the passage of this legislation to ensure we help our fellow Kentuckians recover. The Chamber is committed to supporting the long-term recovery of Eastern Kentucky and applauds the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office for this critical first step.”

The special legislative session will continue on Thursday, August 25.

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