Eastern and Western Kentucky rebuilding projects get nod from House committee

Kentucky Lantern

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FRANKFORT — A House shell bill was changed in a committee Monday afternoon to move millions of dollars from disaster relief funds into rebuilding projects in Eastern and Western Kentucky. 

Twenty members of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee voted for the new version of House Bill 752. The bill was later approved on the House floor.

According to the committee substitute, $11 million from the East Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies (EKSAFE) will go to rehabilitate the Breathitt Area Technology Center in the 2024-25 fiscal year, if passed by the General Assembly. 

Additionally, the bill appropriates $31.6 million from the West Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies (WKSAFE) in the same fiscal year to rebuild a fire station, police station and the city hall in Mayfield, as well as the Graves County administration building. 

The funds were created following devastating tornadoes in West Kentucky that affected towns like Mayfield in 2021 and widespread flooding in Eastern Kentucky in 2022. 

Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, said the technology center had “considerable damage.” He is also the bill sponsor. 

Rep. Chris Fugate, R-Chavies, thanked Petrie, House Speaker David Osborne and staff for working on the bill. Last week, while speaking against a constitutional amendment to allow public dollars to go to nonpublic schools, Fugate said on the floor that school buildings within his own district haven’t been restored since the floods and likely would never be rebuilt without funding from the General Assembly. He said the center is “totally gone.” 

A shell bill is a piece of legislation that proposes minor changes in an existing statute that is often replaced with more substantial measures once it goes to a committee. Having shell bills ready allows lawmakers to introduce substantial legislation late in the session after the deadline for filing bills.

House Bill 752 had two readings before its committee hearing. 

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