A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beshear signs 5 more bills into law, cites week’s economic development success, gives COVID update

Gov. Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on economic development, new legislation, COVID-19, the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast, and the Easter celebration at the State Capitol.

New Jobs and Investment

Over the past week, Beshear announced 212 new Kentucky jobs and $100 million in private investment in the Commonwealth.

“As many of you know, last year we shattered every economic development record in the books and the progress continues,” Beshear said. “We continue to see wonderful opportunities with new companies picking us for the biggest investments in their history, and employers already in Kentucky showing confidence that they can do so much more.”

• F&E Aircraft Maintenance LLC (FEAM AERO), a provider of aircraft maintenance and engineering services, will locate a new three-bay hangar at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, creating nearly 250 full-time positions, including at least 124 Kentucky-resident jobs, with a $40.2 million investment.

• Bardstown Bourbon Co.’s distillery expansion in Nelson County, a $28.7 million investment that will create 29 full-time jobs and increase the operation’s annual capacity by approximately 55,000 barrels.

• G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Inc. will invest $8.9 million toward a new facility in Maysville, creating approximately 73 jobs, with at least 45 of those positions allocated to Kentuckians.

• Augusta Distillery LLC’s new operation in Bracken County, a $23 million investment, will create 14 quality jobs for Kentucky residents.

Governor Signs Bills Into Law

Joined by lawmakers, Beshear signed five pieces of legislation recently passed by the General Assembly. The bills will become law on their effective date.

• House Bill 564 ensures that Kentucky’s expansion of voting options continues. Last year, while other states were restricting voting, Kentucky expanded it by adding early voting days. This bill requires that early, in-person voting is available for at least eight hours between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday prior to an election.

“This ensures the early days are real. With normal hours where people can vote,” Gov. Beshear said.

This bill won bipartisan support in the General Assembly, is supported by the State Board of Elections and continues the work from last session – when Kentucky was one of few states working to expand access to voting – to make it easier for Kentuckians to vote. The Governor thanked Secretary of State Michael Adams for being a good, bipartisan partner in these efforts.

Rep. Josh Branscum said: “Kentuckians are very fortunate to have safe and secure elections. While there is still work to be done, we have taken great strides to ensure they are conducted in a safe, secure, and honest manner. This is due to the diligence of our election officials across the Commonwealth.

• Senate Bill 10 helps colleges and universities that face barriers to expanding their nursing programs. This bill addresses key issues in Kentucky’s nursing pipeline and aims to eliminate some of the barriers nurses face when practicing or attempting to practice in Kentucky.

Sen. Robby Mills said: “It is important that Kentucky has quality nursing care that will meet our future needs. SB10 is a big step forward in ensuring that our commonwealth’s health care systems have the nurses to meet our citizens health needs now and in the future.”

Gov. Beshear

• Senate Bill 105, or Bella Dawn Streeval’s Law, will help newborns, children and families by increasing awareness and screenings for the cytomegalovirus (CMV), a virus that can cause childhood deafness and other health challenges. Unfortunately, most CMV infections are not diagnosed without newborn screening, resulting in missed opportunities for needed care. Bella Dawn Streeval passed away two years ago today after suffering from CMV.

Bella Dawn’s mom, Sarah Streeval, said: “Two years ago today, I held my baby girl for the last time as she struggled to take her last breath. I held my breath waiting to see if there would be another. My world ended two years ago today, but little did I know that there would be new doors that would open. Bella’s Law unfortunately doesn’t change anything for our sweet Bella, but it just may be that her spirit will be living on inside of other little ones who are affected by this law. Bella Dawn truly is changing the world.”

Sen. Max Wise said: “I cannot thank the entire Streeval family enough, as well as all of the families from across the Commonwealth who have collectively advocated and helped make this legislation and bill signing in honor of Bella Dawn possible. Today shows what persistence, collective efforts and compromise can do to put legislation into law. Bella’s Law will be able to provide infant screenings and educational information to expectant mothers and families in an effort to raise CMV awareness across the commonwealth. I also want to thank the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Sarah Roof with KY Hands & Voices, as well as Rep. Deanna Frazier Gordon for their hard work and collaboration. While I never got to personally meet Bella, her imprint and legacy on this earth will live on forever with this law, and I could not be prouder.”

Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Executive Director Virginia Moore said: “The fight came from the families. I think we all have that in us. We can make change, it happens and it’s so important. CMV is something that we need to educate all doctors about and I think with this bill we can do that.”

• House Bill 494 provides regulatory oversight of the student education loan servicing industry in Kentucky for the first time. Student education loan servicing has become a significant issue, with billions of dollars in outstanding debt nationwide. About 600,000 Kentuckians have outstanding federal student loans. This legislation empowers the Department of Financial Institutions, or DFI, with the tools to protect consumers here before harm occurs. Under this bill’s provisions, DFI will be able to address unlicensed activity and prohibit deceptive acts and practices. It also provides for enhanced penalties for any violations involving the military, public servants and older borrowers.

Rep. Deanna Frazier Gordon said: “For many Kentuckians, attending a college or university is only possible by receiving a student loan. However, repayment of the loan can be a burden once the individual completes their education in Kentucky. There is currently over $19 billion in outstanding student loan debt with over 600,000 Kentuckians owing student debt. This bill will allow Kentucky to have the regulatory authority over these loan companies to ensure they comply with statute and treat borrowers fairly.”

• House Bill 525 codifies an existing program administered by the Department for Medicaid Services, which requires Medicaid reimbursement for certain services provided by certified community health workers (CHW). It also establishes a formal CHW certification program and requires the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program to reimburse for certain services provided by CHWs.

Rep. Kim Moser said: “Having health insurance, whether Medicaid or private coverage, doesn’t always equate to getting preventative care or care for chronic disease management, sending people to the emergency room, lengthy hospital stays, and even premature death. HB 525 will provide a network of Community Health Workers, a system of navigation helping people access health care and improving health outcomes across the state.”

COVID-19 Update

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said the state’s COVID-19 community level map is the best it has ever been, with 114 green/low incidence rate counties, six yellow/medium incidence rate counties and zero red/high incidence rate counties.

Dr. Stack said state leaders will stay vigilant in our monitoring the omicron BA.2 variant, but regardless of any new variant, Kentuckians know what they need to do to best protect themselves from COVID-19:

• Keep up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots; and

• Follow the community level map at kycovid19.ky.gov and adjust behaviors accordingly.

• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for older people and certain immunocompromised individuals:

Anyone 50 or older is eligible for a second Pfizer or Moderna booster four months after their most recent dose; and people 12 and older for Pfizer, and 18 and older for Moderna, with substantial immunocompromising medical conditions, are also eligible for a second booster four months after their most recent dose. This determination is between a healthcare professional and a patient.

“Everyone should get your first booster. For the second booster, I recommend you consult your health care professional to help make your decision,” Dr. Stack said.

There is now only one authorized monoclonal antibody in most of the country – bebtelovimab. The state currently has enough to meet demand in Kentucky.

Two oral antivirals, molnupiravir and paxlovid are now available at many Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and Kroger pharmacies. Physicians, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants can prescribe these to eligible patients.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment