Five west Kentucky Lawmakers spent Saturday discussing the progress of Kentucky’s 2014 legislative session which is at its halfway point. Representatives Lynn Bechler (R-Marion), Gerald Watkins (D-Paducah), Will Coursey (D-Symsonia), Richard Heath (R-Mayfield) and Steven Rudy (R-West Paducah) gave updates and took questions.
The Paducah Chamber of Commerce hosted the event for the legislators who represent some portion of McCracken County.
Lawmakers touched on some projects specific to the county including a proposed $1.6M Inner Loop project for Friendship Road in Paducah. “We found the money and that is in this New Year’s budget $1.6 million,” said Rep. Gerald Watkins. The Chamber of Commerce has set the Inner Loop project as one of their infrastructure priorities in Paducah for 2014. The project will connect US 45 and US 60.
Coursey said the Governor set the right priorities for his $68 billion budget which also includes $7.5M in agency bonds for The Paducah School of Art. ”If we’re going to be the kind of state that we want to be we have to invest in education,” he said.
The lawmakers also voiced their opinions on tax reform.
Representative Heath opposes both an increased tobacco tax increase and a statewide smoking. He said the two proposals would have an adverse affect on the farmers of Graves County. Anti-smoking legislation should be a local issue not a state issue he said. Rep. Lynn Bechler and Rep. Steven Rudy also oppose the statewide ban on smoking how it is currently written.
Rep. Lynn Bechler said he has been advocating for raises for corrections and highway maintenance workers since the fall. “I was really pleased to see in the governor’s budget that he has things in there for those raises,” he said.
Here is the presentation audio.