legislators luncheonMADISONVILLE, Ky. (4/21/14) - The Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce held a “Legislative Wrap-Up” Monday featuring state representatives Ben Waide, Brent Yonts, Jim Gooch, Myron Dossett and state Sen. Jerry Rhoads.

The politicians spoke on several legislative priorities of concern to Hopkins County and also shared their views on the latest legislative session.

Waide congratulated Madisonville and Hopkins County local government for good communication with their local legislators.

"It starts with the judge-executive and mayor saying 'this is what we want the most,'" said Waide.

Funding for the Center Street-Island Ford Road Connector Road was discussed at the luncheon, and Rhoads said the topic was the subject of much debate at the legislative session.

According to Rhoads, the final version of the road plan is broken into two parts ― a two-year plan and a four-year plan ― as a projection after the build. The road is projected to be finished in 2015, costing approximately $3 million. The first portion of the plan will take the road from Center Street to where it crosses the railroad tracks. The design for the northern portion of the road was knocked down by the Senate, and did not survive in the legislative session. However, Rhoads hopes to get $1.3 million in additional funding soon.

The legislators also discussed funding for the Murray State University-Madisonville Post-Secondary Education Building saying that the project was "good to go", subject to the college being able to raise $5 million. Funding for post-secondary school projects is the same for all of the 16 KCTCS schools across the state.

HB 2 was passed in the session, which will give post-secondary schools in coal counties ― such as Madisonville Community College in Hopkins County ― $150,000 in grants to award $3,500 to $6,800 scholarships to improve outreach to students in the area. The scholarships would keep students close to home, according to the legislators.

"It gives kids the ability and better access right here in their county," said Waide.

In other education news, the session brought about a mandatory pay raise for teachers: 1 percent in the 2015 fiscal year and 2 percent in 2016.  In addition to a pay increase, Kentucky schools will receive funding increases in many areas such as technology and textbooks.

HB 388 was passed giving the state the ability to create environmental standards for coal production. The legislators explained that they would abide by EPA rules yet do anything they could to "keep jobs here".

"We will do it in a way that will meet the EPA and not totally damage the economy," said Gooch.

Tax reform was a major issue in the legislative session, according to the panel. The Local Investment for Transformation or LIFT plan was discussed, which would enable cities, states and counties to add a one cent additional sales tax to vote up or down on a special project. It was voted down on Monday with 50 votes.

"It's unfair" to brand the plan as a tax, and said that he was "disappointed" that the "Louisville-type" measure was not passed, said Rhoads.

"It could do some big things we couldn't do otherwise," he said.

In states that have passed LIFT, cities have gained hospitals and NBA teams, said Rhoads. He said he believes that voters, not legislators, should decide on more serious items.

Waide said he believes that it's not the last time legislators will discuss LIFT in the General Assembly.

"We can't wait for the state to help us, because they won't," he said.

For more information on all the House Bills passed at this session, go to: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/pubinfo/capitol_notes.htm.

Taylor Riley
SurfKY News
SurfKY News Photo/Taylor Riley

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

Most Read This Week

April 17, 2015 11901

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 23, 2015 7477

Man Charged with Sodomy, Incest/Victim under 12

by SurfKY News
April 18, 2015 5777

Man Charged with Attempting to Coerce Minor for…

by Madisonville Police Department
April 20, 2015 4868

Nortonville Woman Charged with Meth Possession at…

by Madisonville Police Department
April 24, 2015 4076

UPDATE: Police Can't Substantiate Injured Man…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

April 17, 2015 11901

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 02, 2015 8800

UPDATE: Madisonville Man Injured in Head-on…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

April 24, 2015 4076

UPDATE: Police Can't Substantiate Injured Man…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
April 24, 2015 1076

Career Fair Provides Students Information about…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
April 25, 2015 1068

Above and Beyond: Wade Simons

by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
April 24, 2015 1037

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports Released -…

by SurfKY News
April 24, 2015 1027

Hopkins District Court Fines Handed Down

by Karen McKnight
April 24, 2015 979

Probation and Parole Violators - April 24, 2015

by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
April 23, 2015 934

Regional Eighth Grade Math Contest Held

by Joyce Riggs
April 24, 2015 918

Elementary Girls in Good GRACES with Unique…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
April 24, 2015 915

Baptist Health Holds ‘Walk in the Park’ as Part…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
April 24, 2015 896

Muhlenberg District Court Fines Handed Down

by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News