June 7, 2021
State Representative Norma Kirk-McCormick
Interim work begins with updates on water and broadband investments made during the 2021 legislative session
With the first week of interim joint committee meetings behind us, I would like to share an update on the funding we approved for water projects and the expansion of broadband during the 2021 Regular Session. Last week, the Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance, Personnel, and Public Retirement received a status update from the administration to ensure the projects are on track.
You may remember that we invested more than a billion dollars in federal COVID-relief money. This money is a once in a life time opportunity to make an impact on our state’s quality of life, so it is critical we ensure the money is spent in the manner intended by the legislature.
Drinking and Waste Water: With the passage of SB 36, we made a historic commitment of $250 million towards improving aging and inadequate water infrastructure throughout our state. The Budget Review Subcommittee received an update on the planning, design, and construction of costs for the water and sewer projects. The money is administered through the Department of Local Government through the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority for population-based county grants for drinking water services. The committee learned that the bids may exceed the original appropriation, taking into account the rising costs of equipment, parts, and labor.
Each county has a specific amount allocated to them. Lawrence County will be allocated $937,554.70. This money will be instrumental for the water and sewer improvements. The window for project selection will not close, which will promote accessibility, and provide all counties the fair chance to use their allocation.
Broadband: I was proud to join my fellow legislators in appropriating $250 million towards delivering broadband services to the “last mile,” a term used to describe those in hard to reach areas. The legislature created the Broadband Deployment Fund during the 2020 Regular Session to incentivize the delivery of broadband services to the underserved and unserved areas. In addition to funding, this session we also included electric cooperatives in the list of eligible providers. I think we can all agree that electric coops have a long history of delivering services to our most rural areas. The program will team with private providers to provide broadband service to residential, commercial, and industrial customers throughout the state. We allocated an additional $50 million to expand broadband in areas where it will benefit economic development, bringing the total broadband investment to $300 million.
The committee requested monthly status reports on both broadband and water grants. The frequent reporting will keep us informed and provide necessary accountability and oversight.
Interim Joint Committee meetings started this week on June 1. Tune in to legislative committee coverage on the KET website at KET.org. If you would like more information about bills or legislative actions, you can visit the Legislative Research Commission website at legislature.ky.gov. Even though we are not in session at this time, I still want to hear from you regarding concerns about our Interim work or other issues. I can be reached in Frankfort through the toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181. You can also contact me via e-mail at Norma.KirkMcCormick@lrc.ky.gov.
Megan Kay Sparrow
Office of the Speaker
Kentucky House of Representatives
Capitol Annex Room 309 | 702 Capitol Ave. | Frankfort, KY 40601 | 502-564-8100 | cell 502-604-1221