Fifty-nine legislative days had come to a close in the halls of the Kentucky Capitol, and it was time for lawmakers to go home.
By daylight, the stories on what had been accomplished over the last two days of the session were being read on paper and on screens statewide. Front and center in the news: the General Assembly had passed a $5.1 billion two–year state Road Plan (HB 237) along with a bill (HB 236) to fund it all. It was a great accomplishment for lawmakers, who struggled to reach agreement on the plan until the session’s final hours.
The massive plan, which authorizes road and bridge projects through fiscal year 2016, does not include all the projects that members wanted. It also does not rely on an increase in the state gasoline tax to boost state road funds—a proposal whose time had come and gone before the veto recess. But it was agreeable to a majority of lawmakers in the end, as was another piece of legislation (House Joint Resolution 62) that prioritizes state road projects through 2020 in the “six-year road plan”— essentially a promise to lawmakers that important road projects not funded this time around will likely be funded two years from now.
Roads mean jobs for any state, any community. They are important in attracting industry, tourism, and educational opportunities. More isolated counties in the state, especially in Eastern Kentucky, have struggled for decades to provide access to higher education in the region for its residents. But another accomplishment this session, the passage of HB 2, designed to boost the number of bachelor’s degree holders in Eastern Kentucky, will help change that.
Passed on a final vote of 96-3 in the House, HB 2 will expand the Kentucky Coal County College Completion Scholarship pilot program created by the governor in 2012 to all 34 coal counties in Kentucky, both east and west. Changes made to the bill in the Senate on the final day and approved by the House will require pharmacy students receiving the scholarships to live in coal counties, and require that funds not spent on pharmacy students go to osteopathic medicine scholarships, along with other provisions.
There were more successes, on the final day in the final hours of the session, which include:
Information provided by Brent Yonts
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