melinda gibbons prunty CURRENTBELTON, Ky. (6/10/19) — I have remained busy and engaged since Memorial Day and will relay what a legislator might be doing between sessions. Even though our “official work” is “part-time”, there is much to keep one busy staying in touch between official business in Frankfort.

One such responsibility is to the airport boards. I attend the Muhlenberg County Airport (KM21) board meetings when able and hope to engage with the Madisonville Municipal Airport (K210) in the near future. Aviation’s importance to Kentucky cannot be overstated. Aviation education and the jobs that can be created around it are growing across the state.

On May 28, I attended a Fish and Wildlife public meeting at Muhlenberg South Elementary School for residents and landowners. I went both as a legislator and a citizen since the meeting was regarding potential changes to the number of steps and landings allowed on Lake Malone to new property owners. There being so few in attendance and the lack of receiving notice noted by several present, Fish and Wildlife is going to attempt to survey a greater number of folks to better determine the will of the majority as they move forward on this issue. Comments were supposed to be mailed or e-mailed by June 3.

On May 30, I attended the ribbon cutting at Scotty’s Asphalt & Stone Contracting LLC branch in Madisonville located on Hubert Reid Road. They turned an old coal mine into a new location in the 15th District.

On Saturday, June 1, I attended the Mortons Gap Coalfield Festival. It is an all day event that has been successfully held the past 56 years. It is amazing to see the citizens, city council and business owners come together to offer an event that brings the community together for a day and night of fun, relaxation and fellowship.

I returned to Frankfort on Sunday evening to attend interim joint committee meetings on Monday through Wednesday. On Monday, I had both Medicaid Oversight and Advisory Committee and Health and Family Services Committee meetings. On Tuesday, I attended the Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources, the Appropriations and Revenue Committee and the Natural Resources and Energy Committee meetings. My last meeting for the week was held on Wednesday, which was the Education Committee.

In each committee meeting, we heard from various stakeholders regarding what their possible financial requests are going to be and why for the next budget cycle, updates on laws that have been passed and their impact upon implementation as well as issues we might hear in the upcoming 60-day regular session in January.

In Health and Family Services, we heard from several agencies and organizations with data regarding mental health, housing and outcomes when services are provided for those with true mental health issues. Models are being piloted in several areas of the state with good results that can hopefully be replicated in other parts of the Commonwealth. The goal is to get citizens the help they need while making the best use of taxpayer dollars while doing so.

In A&R, we heard annual updates from both President Eli Capilouto from the University of Kentucky and President Neeli Bendapudi from the University of Louisville. When asked about performance based funding, both reported that they liked it and felt it was working well at their respective institutions. Performance based funding is a new funding model that is being phased in at all state universities and community colleges, holding funding at those institutions of higher education accountable based on their successful outcomes and evaluating areas where they are not as successful.

In Education, we heard from the director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood. The report included the efforts that have been made along with data results after receiving a $10 million federal grant from the Every Student Succeeds Act. The goal is to strengthen early childhood education in both public and private preschool and daycare settings. Studies consistently link overall education success with the fact that students participated in high quality evidence based early childhood programs.

There was also an update presented on homeschooling in the Commonwealth. From testimony given regarding a study that was conducted by the Office of Education Accountability, there were two conclusions that seemed to be drawn by committee members. One is that there is a well-respected homeschooling tradition in the state and those students typically have higher levels of academic success at Kentucky’s postsecondary institutions. The second is that some parents are taking advantage of the flexibility of home school laws in the state to avoid truancy issues. The committee is committed to looking at the data further to see what lessons can be gained from the first conclusion as well as what steps need to be taken to avoid the latter.

On Thursday, I attended the dedication of the New Salem Circle Road Bridge in Nortonville. The citizens were appreciative and both the Governor and the Secretary of the Transportation Cabinet were present for the occasion. Much credit was given for having the discretionary funds readily available to apply to the project from Gov. Matt Bevin’s “Bridging Kentucky Program”. Secretary Thomas noted that the governor is about the economy and jobs and communities need access to state highways for both to advance. Citizens’ valid concerns of safety in emergency situations were also noted. This is an example of what can happen when citizens, local, county and state officials work together to solve a problem.

On Friday, I was proud to participate in the Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA-- https://kyyouth.org/) Regional Gathering regarding the passing and implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act that was held on the Murray Campus in Paducah. We heard first hand testimony from Chris Hagans, a young man who was placed in out-of-home care several times as a child who now works for Voices of the Commonwealth: Kentucky's Foster Youth Council. We also heard the main impacts hoped for with implementation of the act and I was happy to serve on a panel along with a foster parent, a provider, a Family Resource and Youth Service Center representative and a kinship caregiver (a grandmother) regarding both positives and challenges anticipated from the FFPSA implementation.

The FFPSA is a federal act that was signed into law on February 9, 2018 as part of the Social Security Act. The purpose is to allow for federal funds to be accessed in order to provide prevention services and wrap around supports to try and prevent a child or children from going into the foster care system. The goal is to preserve the family if at all possible.

I continue to attend other various events to support fundraising causes for constituents, support community events and address issues such as foster care, road issues and a variety of other issues as individual constituents reach out to me for assistance. The job continues while home in the district.

As always, I welcome your comments and concerns on any issue and can be reached, regardless if in session or not, through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at-1-800-372-7181, at 502-564-8100 Ext. 686, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please follow me on Facebook @melindagibbonsprunty. You can also keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov
 
Note: Representative Melinda Gibbons Prunty represents the 15th House District serving Muhlenberg and SE Hopkins Counties which includes White Plains, Morton’s Gap, Anton as well as sections of Nortonville, Earlington and SE Madisonville. She is Vice-Chair of the Health & Family Services Committee as well as the Budget Review Sub-Committee on Health & Family Services. She serves as a member on the Appropriations & Revenue, Education, and Natural Resources & Energy Committees as well as the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Advisory Committee. http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/ColonCancer.htm

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