KENTUCKY (WEHT) – Governor Andy Beshear held his weekly Team Kentucky update on May 11. During the press conference, the governor discussed the passing of Virginia Moore, early voting and other topics. Here’s what was discussed during this week’s Team Kentucky update:
Governor Beshear began this week’s update by honoring Virginia Moore, the executive director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, who passed away on Saturday. A release from the governor’s office says Moore led a national effort to ensure American Sign Language was included at every public press conference, which sparked a wider effort across the United States.
“I will miss her. I know her family, loved ones, her beloved dogs and Kentuckians across this state will miss her too,” said Gov. Beshear. “But as Virginia would remind us in our grief: We will get through this; we will get through this together.”
Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, updated Kentuckians on changes to data, testing, vaccines and treatment as the national public health emergency for COVID-19 ends on Thursday.
Officials say hospital data will only be reported weekly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disease transmission map and community level maps will no longer be published and national COVID-19 immunization data will no longer be complete because states will no longer be required to report it. Bivalent COVID-19 vaccines will remain available via pharmacies, health departments and medical offices. Testing will also change as insurance companies will no longer be required to provide eight free monthly tests per person. Eventually, COVID-19 medications and vaccines will be treated by insurance companies like other prescriptions and vaccines.
“Team Kentucky, as the national COVID-19 public health emergency declaration ends today, I hope we’ll take a moment to be grateful that we have indeed gotten through this and that we have gotten through it together,” said Dr. Stack.
The Kentucky Primary Election will take place from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Governor Beshear reminds voters that local designated areas will have in-person, no-excuse voting until Saturday. For more information on locations and times to vote in your area, visit govoteky.com.
“Whether you do it over the next few days or on Tuesday, do go vote. This is your chance to take an active role in our democratic process and to make your voice heard,” said Gov. Beshear.
Beshear joined representatives of Kentucky’s Counterdrug Program to praise them for supporting the seizure of 142 pounds of fentanyl over seven months. Officials say the drugs could have caused the deaths of over 28.9 million people.
The governor also moved to continue the team’s work of disrupting the supply of illicit drugs in the commonwealth by signing the fiscal year 2024 State Drug Interdiction and Counterdrug Activities Plan.
“This team is out there on the front lines in our communities, taking drugs off the streets and saving lives. I am proud to support them each and every day for their lifesaving work,” Gov. Beshear said. “I also commend our Kentucky State Police officers who work with multiple agencies to remove dangerous drugs from our communities. One of those is the Kentucky National Guard, which is instrumental in supporting the counterdrug program here in Kentucky as well as supporting local law enforcement on our Southwest Border.”
Signing of service animal bill
Governor Beshear signed House Bill 115 on Thursday, which adds the definition of “electronic detection dog” and “police dog” and adds them to the statute for assault on a service animal, which is a Class D felony.
Kentucky State Police added the agency’s first electronic service detection K9 in 2021, with the second ESD K9 added in August 2022. The governor was joined by one of those K9s during the update.
The governor said May and Cam are among only 85 electronic storage device K9s in the country. They work with police agencies and Internet Crimes Against Children task forces to assist with locating hidden electronic storage devices such as hard drives, USB drives and cell phones that may contain child sexual abuse material or other criminal activity.
Two of the eight law enforcement K9s shot or stabbed to death in the U.S. so far this year were in service to Kentucky law enforcement agencies.
“This is very much needed legislation, and I am proud to sign it today,” Gov. Beshear said. “Thank you to Sgt. Strong, May and Detective Sims and Cam for helping to protect our children and keep our street safe.”
National Police Week
Governor Beshear encouraged Kentuckians to join him next week for National Police Week to honor the commonwealth’s law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty and the nearly 8,000 officers who continue to serve and create a safer Kentucky for future generations.
Governor Beshear will be directing flags at all state office buildings to be lowered to half-staff on Monday in observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day. He also said the commonwealth is preparing to add the names of seven law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2022 to the Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial at the annual ceremony May 25.
April 2023 General Fund Receipts
Beshear announced the Office of State Budget Director reports that April’s General Fund receipts were the second highest ever. The Governor said the receipts were slightly lower than last April, due to the reduction in the individual income tax rate he signed into law this year. Collections for April were more than $1.7 billion, a 4.5% growth in the first ten months of fiscal year 2023.
“It is absolutely true that Kentucky is an economic powerhouse and that we are creating good-paying jobs for our families,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are in the midst of the best economic roll that Kentucky has ever been on.”
A storm hit Kentucky in early March, causing several deaths and widespread property damage. The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared 40 Kentucky counties as disaster areas due to damage caused by the storm. The USDA also named 35 contiguous counties where eligible family farmers may qualify for emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency. More about the loan applications can be found on the USDA’s Farm Service Agency website.
Governor Beshear announced his initial request for federal aid to assist with recovery efforts in 22 Kentucky counties adversely affected by severe storms from February 15 through February 20 has been approved by President Joe Biden. More information can be found here. Beshear said nine households are still being sheltered through the Commonwealth Sheltering Program in western Kentucky. Currently, five travel trailers are occupied at commercial locations, while four trailers remain at a private site. So far, 114 households have transitioned out of the program.
Beshear also provided an update on recovery and rebuilding efforts in eastern Kentucky. The governor says 114 families are housed in travel trailers, and Kentucky State Parks are now housing 14 people, down from 360 people sheltered on September 1.
FEMA has approved more than $106.2 million in Individual Assistance grants. Since May 9, two more applicants have received the max grant of $37,900, bringing the total Housing Assistance max grants to $26.9 million for 715 survivors.
Letter Carriers Food Drive Day
Governor Beshear proclaimed May 13 as Letter Carriers Food Drive Day in Kentucky and encouraged Kentuckians to participate in the country’s largest one-day food drive. Kentuckians can participate in the 31st annual Letter Carriers Food Drive on Saturday by leaving a bag of nonperishable food next to their mailbox for postal workers to collect.
“Although this is a national drive, the food you donate will go to a local food drive in your community. So, you will be directly helping out your neighbors,” said Gov. Beshear. “If you are able, please consider donating. Also, be sure to thank your mailman or woman for all of their hard work to make the drive possible.”
Team Kentucky All-Stars
Governor Beshear named the three Kentucky students who were designated as U.S. Presidential Scholars by the U.S. Department of Education as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars. Scholars are selected based on academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as a commitment to community service and leadership.
The three Kentucky students that were selected are:
- Cecelia Ann Rogers from Nelson County High School
- Beatriz Oliveira Antunes from South Warren High School
- Arnav Dharmagadda from Russell High School
“You all made Kentucky very proud! I know this is just the beginning of the great things we will be seeing from you,” said Gov. Beshear. “I am happy to name you as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars.”