FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 23, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on recent bill signings; transportation funding; recovery efforts in Eastern Kentucky; an emergency regulation for a controlled substance; upcoming inclement weather; a new teacher apprenticeship program; and public health. He also named the students who competed in this year’s Governor’s Cup academic competition as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars.
Measure to Stop Sale of ‘Gas Station Heroin’
Today, the Governor signed an emergency regulation classifying all products containing tianeptine, an unregulated drug known as “gas station heroin” that produces opioid-like effects, as a Schedule I controlled substance. Tianeptine, which is available online and in convenience stores and gas stations, has no known medical use. It has been linked to serious harm, overdoses and death according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
For resources on addiction and recovery, Kentuckians can visit findhelpnowky, the Kentucky Opioid Response Effort website, or call 833-8KY-HELP. To read more, see the full release.
The National Weather Service and Kentucky Emergency Management are tracking a heavy rain event expected to peak tonight and continue through Friday night. There is a high potential for flash flooding and minor to moderate river flooding. The most impacted areas are in Northern Kentucky along the Ohio River into Southern Indiana.
There is also the potential for strong to severe thunderstorms Friday afternoon and evening with damaging winds, large hail and the potential for isolated tornadoes. The Governor encouraged Kentuckians to:
- Visit floodsmart.gov to see flood risks;
- Have a plan for getting to higher ground quickly;
- Have multiple ways to receive flash flood warnings; and
- Never walk or drive through flooded roadways.
Paid Apprenticeship Program in Nelson County To Build Teacher Pipeline
The Governor highlighted a program that will provide a streamlined pathway for high school students to become classroom teachers. In partnership with Western Kentucky University (WKU), Nelson County Schools has received state and federal approval to launch an apprenticeship program. This program will allow students to enroll in a dual-credit curriculum at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and WKU, earning up to 59 hours of college credit while still in high school.
The paid apprenticeship will begin during the student’s junior or senior year of high school. Upon high school graduation, student apprentices will continue to be paid employees of Nelson County Schools while enrolled at WKU to complete the remaining 61 hours needed to earn their bachelor’s degree. For additional information about apprenticeships and more, visit kyworks.ky.gov.
“Teacher recruitment and retention has been a top priority for my administration since day one. I’m excited to highlight a trailblazing effort by Nelson County Schools to tackle this critical workforce issue,” said Gov. Beshear. “This program will serve as a national model to address the teacher shortage by growing the next generation of educators right there in their school district.”
Today, Gov. Beshear announced his approval of more than $1 million in discretionary transportation funding to six counties for road repairs. The funding is administered through the Department of Rural and Municipal Aid in the Transportation Cabinet. The counties receiving this new round of funding are Daviess, Knott, Lyon, Robertson, Simpson and Trimble.
“Our communities need safe, well-maintained local streets and roads in order to grow and thrive. The funding I’m announcing today will make a positive difference in these communities,” said Gov. Beshear. “Local streets and roads are vitally important to the Kentuckians who rely on them every day, and I’m glad to be able to offer this type of support.”
Eastern Kentucky Flood Update
The Governor provided an update on Eastern Kentucky’s rebuilding efforts.
Currently, 179 families are housed in travel trailers, and Kentucky State Parks are now housing 16 people, down from the 360 people sheltered on Sept. 1, 2022.
As of this week, over $1.1 million has been committed to building new homes and home repairs with nonprofit partners, including the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, Housing Development Alliance and Homes Inc.
The administration released a new Request for Proposal (RFP) for Program Management expertise. Proposals from interested parties are due by 3:30 p.m. EDT Friday, March 24. To learn more about this RFP, visit the Finance and Administration Cabinet’s website or click here.
If flood victims need help, they should call FEMA directly or visit a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC). The MARCs will be open until March 31. The centers are on a rotating schedule, which consists of two onsite personnel and one remote support person as needed. The staff will rotate from county to county each day. Visit governor.ky.gov/FloodResources for more information.
The Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has raised over $13.2 million from more than 41,500 donors. To contribute, click here.
Governor Signs Bills into Law
Gov. Beshear joined lawmakers and advocates to sign seven pieces of legislation recently passed by the General Assembly.
House Bill 180 establishes biomarker testing coverage requirements for health benefit plans. Biomarker testing is a way to track the progression of certain diseases, especially tumors. The testing looks for genes that can provide information about the possibility of future cancer diagnoses. This bill requires health benefit plans to cover biomarker testing when it is deemed clinically appropriate by a qualified health care provider to treat, manage, diagnose or monitor the patient’s disease.
“This testing can prevent many unnecessary deaths and illnesses,” Gov. Beshear said. “This is another important step forward in improving people’s access to health care and treatment across the commonwealth.”
“What House Bill 180 does is get the right treatment at the right time to the right patient. I know we’ve all been touched by cancer here in Kentucky. We have the unfortunate ranking as No. 1 in lung cancer in the nation, and we seek to change that. We are moving in the right direction,” said Rep. Kim Moser of Taylor Mill. “This will save money, this will save lives. It will mitigate the long-term health effects that we see from cancer treatments that may or may not work. Again, this is an exciting day for Kentucky. Thanks again to Gov. Beshear.”
“This is a huge step forward for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the people of Kentucky to get access to testing,” said Tony Remington, chief executive officer and co-founder of Gravity Diagnostics in Covington. “This is extremely important in the behavioral mental health space, so we are really excited about where we can go forward, working together to improve health care outcomes across the commonwealth. I want to thank Gov. Beshear and Rep. Moser, and I look forward to working hard to implement this bill.”
House Bill 146 requires the Office of Unemployment Insurance to change the minimum number of weeks for benefits from 12 to 16. It also requires the office to advise a claimant approved for Unemployment Insurance to be notified of additional benefits, training opportunities and financial aid resources available to them.
Last year, the Governor vetoed House Bill 4, the bill that cut weeks of unemployment for folks who may have spent more than a decade in a career and then were laid off.
This bill comes two weeks after the Governor announced that Kentucky set the lowest annual unemployment rate in state history for 2022 at 3.9%. The Governor emphasized that in order to continue this success, we need to continue supporting Kentuckians. The Governor also noted that Kentucky is one of only a few states that does not offer up to 26 weeks of unemployment.
“My faith teaches me that we should lift up our neighbors when they are hurting, not kick them down,” Gov. Beshear said. “Unemployment insurance is a critical resource for our families when they are hit with the unexpected, so we need to do everything we can to support it. This bill is a step in the right direction, but there is still work to be done.”
Senate Bill 30 protects Kentucky consumers from predatory practices related to automatic renewals and continuous service offers. The bill requires companies to be clear and transparent about when and how much a customer will be charged when it comes to paid subscriptions. The bill also requires more transparency about cancellation policies and changes in terms and conditions.
Susan Westrom, a former state representative from Lexington who previously sponsored the bill, joined Gov. Beshear for the signing and said, “It is wonderful to see that Kentucky is protecting our consumers who have unwittingly been charged for renewed subscriptions they did not renew.”
Senate Bill 281 requires the state to implement a strategy to replace at least 50% of the state fleet with qualified hybrid, fuel cell and other alternative motor vehicles and increase the use of alternative fuels.
House Bill 544 implements state regulation of Delta 8 products. The bill implements part of the Gov. Beshear’s 2022 executive order that establishes a regulatory structure to ensure that Delta 8 is sold and purchased safely in the commonwealth. Delta 8 contains THC, but at a lower level than marijuana. It is not a controlled substance in Kentucky nor under federal law, and a court has ruled that it is legal in Kentucky.
“This regulatory structure to ensure that Delta 8 is sold and purchased safely in the commonwealth can and will also serve as a template for when the General Assembly fully legalizes medical cannabis,” Gov. Beshear said. “We want Kentuckians to have access to the resources they need for relief. We want to make sure they can do that safely, and this bill is a good first step.”
“House Bill 544 makes it illegal for anybody under the age of 21 to purchase Delta 8. It’s going to require it to be behind the counter or in a secure cabinet, and it’s going to require labeling and batch testing to look for those dangerous residuals that can be left behind,” said Rep. Rebecca Raymer of Morgantown. “I want to thank the great leadership team that was supportive of this bill and my colleagues in the House and Senate for voting unanimously for it, and I thank Gov. Beshear for signing this important piece of legislation today.”
House Joint Resolution 76 relates to Kentucky State Parks funding. The bill designates $40 million towards campground upgrades, $20 million toward utility upgrades and $6 million towards broadband and wi-fi upgrades. Unfortunately, the bill also does not fund $40 million in building systems improvements, $22 million in accommodation upgrades and $22 million in recreational amenity upgrades. Without this vital funding, Kentucky State Parks are unable to make crucial infrastructure, accommodation and recreational improvements. The Governor also warned that this legislation could result in Jenny Wiley State Park shutting down.
“I am going to sign this legislation because of all the good funding it brings to our state parks –but we have an urgent need to do more,” Gov. Beshear said. “I urge the General Assembly to use the rest of the legislative session to right these wrongs and give our beautiful state parks the funding they need and deserve.”
“This funding is a great start for critical improvements,” said Department of Parks Commissioner Russ Meyer. “Of course, we have other important needs on our list that we’d like to see addressed in the future to keep our parks competitive and to continue to draw tourism in high numbers. Jenny Wiley, which housed many flood victims from Eastern Kentucky, does have structural and geotech issues. Lake Barkley, which housed our tornado victims in Western Kentucky, needs major structural repairs. Our parks do so much: they provide employment for communities across the commonwealth, they build tax revenue and they contribute to Kentucky’s cultural legacy. Thank you, Governor, for today’s acknowledgement and recognizing the importance of our parks. We pledge to continue the good work and to implement these projects promptly.”
Lastly, Senate Joint Resolution 58 designates the route from Camp Nelson in Jessamine County to the Kentucky/Ohio border at Mays Lick as the Brigadier General Charles Young Memorial Historical Corridor. Brigadier General Charles Young was the child of enslaved parents and the third African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1889. He went on to a distinguished military and public service career. In February 2020, the Governor posthumously promoted Col. Charles Young to the honorary rank of brigadier general in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The bill also directs that the corridor be denoted with signage and that the state work to promote the historical, military and cultural significance of the corridor and to work with their counterparts in Ohio to promote the corridor as a regional attraction.
“I am so proud to know that everyone who passes through this area will know the name Charles Young,” Gov. Beshear said. “We have the responsibility to honor him and his legacy, and this is another step we are taking to ensure that.”
“It’s a great day to be alive when we have an opportunity to recognize this great legacy and the wonderful contributions that will occur from this corridor,” said Rodney Bennett of the Mason County Brigadier General Charles Young Cabin Committee. “This corridor will not only highlight the importance and significance of African American history, but African American history is American history, so it will serve as a catalyst to bring forth tourism and opportunities within this area, as well as champion the wonderful work and wonderful life that this gentleman led.”
“We owe Brigadier General Young – and his family – a debt of gratitude for the freedom we have today because of his service. I am proud that the Commonwealth of Kentucky continues to recognize his legacy and give him the respect he deserves,” said Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Deputy Secretary Keith Jackson.
“We are thrilled to see Gov. Beshear sign legislation to designate the route as the Brigadier General Charles Young Memorial Historical Corridor. We in Mason County believe this honor will not only highlight the historical commitment Charles Young made to this country, but it will also recognize and educate others on the achievements, bravery and strength of African Americans throughout our history. Mason County is grateful for this action and we know it will have a positive impact for generations to come,” said Buddy Gallenstein of Mason County.
“Mason County is elated with the bipartisan work completed on behalf of Mason County’s own Brigadier General Charles Young and the Brigadier General Charles Young Memorial Historic Corridor. Brigadier General Young’s impactful life is the perfect example of the authentic history Maysville and Mason County are blessed with. The Brigadier General Charles Young Memorial Corridor highlights our local history and such an impactful life, bolsters regional economic development between Kentucky and Ohio, and supports our local cabin committee’s intentions of transferring the cabin into the National Park Service,” said Mason County Judge/Executive Owen McNeill. “I appreciate the efforts from Senator West and Neal as well as our State Rep. William Lawrence and, of course, Gov Beshear for all they’ve done in support of Mason County’s Brigadier General Charles Young birthplace cabin located in Mayslick.”
“On behalf of the National Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations, it gives us great pleasure to see the Governor sign the resolution designating the Brigadier General Charles Young Memorial Corridor. This designation encompasses five historical sites in Kentucky, encourages the extension into Ohio which will potentially include an additional five sites,” said Charles Blatcher III, chair of the National Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations. “This act enhances visibility of little-known locations of historical importance in the region to the nation. Executing this bill provides a runway that will allow the posting of signage for public consumption throughout the region. The coalition has worked tirelessly over recent years to achieve the goal of bringing recognition to the Kentucky/Ohio Region. We look forward to posting and unveiling signage in the coming months. Ready and forward!”
Gov. Beshear said that, over the past four weeks, COVID-19 case incidence has decreased. Since last week, the number of COVID-19 patients that are hospitalized, in the ICU or on a ventilator has also decreased.
Team Kentucky All-Stars
Gov. Beshear named the students who competed in the Governor’s Cup academic competition as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars. Gov. Beshear also thanked and highlighted the work of the Kentucky Association for Academic Competition, coaches, parents and caregivers who supported the students.
“Congratulations to every Kentucky student who participated. It’s a huge accomplishment to take part in this program, and you should all be proud. I know we are proud of you,” said Gov. Beshear.