Bill Would Require State Officials To Visit Remote Kentucky Counties

Dec 15, 2016

Mississippi River at Columbus Belmont State Park in Hickman, Kentucky
Credit Matt Markgraf, WKMS

Kentucky’s top officials would be required to visit the farthest corners of the state before beginning their duties under a bill filed for the upcoming legislative session.

Rep. Kenny Imes, a Republican from Murray, said the legislation would make the state’s top policymakers more aware of the state’s diverse needs.

“It’s just an awareness thing, see people how they live, how their jobs affect them,” Imes said. “If you’re transportation secretary, you need to see what the roads look like around there. If you’re economic development secretary, you need to see what the economics are down there.”

Imes said historically, many of the state’s top jobs go to people from Lexington and Louisville. And despite briefings, he said, they don’t have the perspective of the most remote corners of the state.

Under the bill, cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries and commissioners would have to travel to Fulton or Hickman counties in Western Kentucky and Pike, Martin or Letcher counties in Eastern Kentucky.

The officials would have to provide their bosses with a certificate showing that they physically traveled to the requisite county clerks’ offices. Officials wouldn’t be able to be reimbursed by the state for travel.

“They’d do it at their own expense. I figure if you’re going to take a $130,000 job or $100,000 job, you can at least go out and see these parts of the state,” Imes said.

About 42 percent of Kentuckians live in rural areas according to the 2010 census, making it the eighth most-rural state in the nation.

Imes has proposed similar version of the bill in recent legislative sessions, though it hasn’t been heard in committee since 2014.

The legislative session starts Jan. 3.