melinda gibbons prunty CURRENTBELTON, Ky. (7/22/19) — We still have a few days left in July, but it has been a busy month and I would like to share an update on what I have been doing as your State Representative. After the Independence Day festivities held locally, I spent July 8 and 9 in Frankfort for regular committee meetings. 

July 8 began with a meeting at the Department for Fish and Wildlife. I was invited by the United Trappers of Kentucky to join a discussion regarding their requests to change a department regulation and consider a possible change in statute regarding the trapping of beavers. A “Beaver Brigade” came to the 15th District last year to provide some relief from the overabundance of beavers that cause damage to both county and state roads, farmland and timber. The trappers are working with the department to try to increase the number of beavers trapped to truly have an impact on the problem. Steve Mefford attended the meeting to be a voice for landowners from the district. The conversations were straightforward and honest. Further conversations need to be had; hopefully compromises can be made to help provide relief from this ongoing problem. 

Later in the afternoon on the 8th I attended the Interim Medicaid Oversight and Advisory Committee meeting where we heard about pharmacy issues and the status of long-term care facilities in our state. Local pharmacies brought concerns to the committee that pharmacy benefit managers are not properly implementing a cost containment measure passed by the General Assembly. They also discussed problems they are having with reimbursement rates and billing, some of which have caused independently owned, community pharmacies to close. The long-term care facility portion of the meeting was also very interesting, particularly with so many baby boomers looking towards future needs.

On Tuesday I attended three regular interim meetings including the Budget Review Subcommittee on Health and Welfare as well as the Appropriations and Revenue Committee and the Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Later that evening I attended the Awards Banquet of the Soil Conservation Districts of Kentucky’s Annual Convention in Lexington. I joined Muhlenberg County Conservation District Chair Wallace Slinker, Vice-Chair Teddy Jessup and other members from the district for an enjoyable and informative evening hearing about the work of so many who conserve and protect the soil of our great state. Stewardship of our land is very important. 

On Wednesday, the 10th, I flew to Charleston, SC to attend a Public Health Winnable Battles gathering to participate as part of the Kentucky team (which consisted of state public health officials, legislative staff, a senator, another representative and myself) to address serious public health issues in the Commonwealth. Discussions were held on the issues of ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences), hypertension, and HIV and the infectious consequences of opioid use with a particular emphasis on harm reduction. We were chosen as a state to participate because we do not score very well in any of these areas. 

The gathering was sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) as well as by astho (Association of State and Territorial Health Officials). CDC (Centers for Disease Control) officials were present to present data and be resources for state teams to consult when looking at their states’ respective plans. Goals were set, tasks were assigned, and follow-up is scheduled; to be continued.

Upon my return from Charleston, I was able to attend “An Evening in Paradise” at Lu-Ray Park and Amphitheater in Central City featuring John Prine. Just prior to his appearance on stage I had the privilege of presenting Mr. Prine with a Citation of Achievement from the Kentucky House of Representatives. His wife, Fiona, was present and both appreciated the gesture of honor and recognition. 

On Monday I attended the second meeting of the Muhlenberg County Census Committee meeting as well as had the pleasure of honoring WWII Veteran, Freddie Wilcox from Earlington at the White Plains monthly Senior Citizens Potluck. Mr. Wilcox, who recently turned 100, could not be in attendance as he was not feeling well, however, Spencer Brewer presented him with the citation at his home on Wednesday the 17th. There were many veterans in attendance, and I was humbled to be able to thank them for their service as well as Mr. Wilcox’s. Amanda Barnett, Post Service Officer for the American Legion in Madisonville was also at the potluck and shared that Korean War veterans and their families can apply for Korean War Veterans “Ambassador for Peace” Medallions and Certificates.

To receive the Medallion and Certificate at a ceremony in Frankfort to be held on September 20, you must apply before August 15, 2019. Eligibility criteria can be found on the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs website at https://veterans.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx 
If you do not have a computer, call April Brown at 502-564-9203 with any questions. If the veteran or a family member cannot attend the ceremony in Frankfort, the items can be mailed to their home. 

On Tuesday I had the honor of presenting Citations of Achievement to Kathy Miller and Danny Walker at the Muhlenberg County Airport monthly board meeting. Mrs. Miller stepped down from having served as Secretary/Treasurer from 1987 until October of 2018. Mr. Walker recently stepped down as Chair having served since June 2008 but continues to serve on the board as a member. Both made contributions that allowed for significant improvements to the airport that increased access to critical care for constituents in medical emergencies and created greater capacity for economic development.

I attended the regularly scheduled CIC (Center Industry Council) meeting at the Muhlenberg Job Corps Center on the 18th. We heard their annual report and the need to recruit more students who desire to receive training and certificates in much needed jobs in the workforce.  

On Friday I was present for the opening day of the Special Session, called for by Governor Bevin officially on Thursday. Three bills were filed, the Governor’s and two by the House Minority. After session I traveled to Northern KY to the Kenton County Detention Center for the monthly Interim Joint Committee meeting for Health and Welfare that had been scheduled prior to the calling of the Special Session.

We heard testimony on their unique MAT (Medically Assisted Treatment) Program for drug addiction that is having great success. It was created by someone who is in long-term recovery himself and they shared their approach and statistics. They hope to serve as a model for the state. 

 On Saturday we had the second day of the Special Session. Upon recess all three bills were heard in committee. HB 1 passed and the other two did not receive enough votes to pass out of committee. HB 1 will have its third reading on Monday, then we are supposed to vote after floor debate.

HB 1 would allow for relief and flexibility to quasi-governmental agencies such as local health departments, rape crisis centers, mental health clinics and domestic violence shelters along with regional state universities. Without relief, several would go bankrupt.

It would give the agencies, who all function with independent boards, choices on how to move forward, although they cannot make a final decision until April 1, 2020. That date allows the agencies ample time to consider the options before them and allows for any further changes to the legislation during the regular 2020 Session. It would protect benefits already earned by employees, but at the same time does not allow for underfunding of the pension system.

HB 2 would have unfairly shifted more than $3 billion in costs to the rest of the KERS-NH employers without requiring quasi-agencies to pay any more than they currently do. The money for this shift would have to come from somewhere, either higher taxes or cuts to other state funded programs such as public education, roads or law enforcement. It would also allow for some agencies to exit the system but would not afford others the ability to do so, such as the regional universities which have requested it.  

HB 3 would freeze the rates of the quasi-governmental agencies at the current rate of 49%, but that is ALL that it would do. Actuaries have said to freeze the rate without a plan on how to deal with it moving forward would not only cost the state more than $120 million a year, but would further damage our credit ratings and bonding ability. A freeze is included in HB 1, but it is part of an overall plan to allow the groups to exit the plan while preserving the years of service that current employees have. 

ALERT TO LANDOWNERS AT LAKE MALONE: Fish and Wildlife held a public meeting at Muhlenberg South Elementary School on May 28th, however, attendance was very low and many landowners present had not received anything in writing from the Commission. They decided to double check their database and resend a letter asking for votes as to whether or not to change the current regulation regarding the number of steps and landings allowed on the Department’s 50-foot buffer from 36 to 72 steps and allow for 2 additional landings or leave the regulation as it already exists. To vote for or against, if you haven’t already done so, you can call 502-892-4527, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or send a letter to the Department by August 2, 2019. The address is #1 Sportsman’s Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601. https://fw.ky.gov

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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