Frankfort Local News

Beshear Creates Coal Scholarship Program

Governor Steve Beshear has created a program lawmakers could not. The governor has released four million dollars to be given as scholarships to Eastern Kentucky college students.

Lawmakers wrestled with several scholarship proposals during the last legislative session, but an agreement was never passed.

“Kentuckians recognize the importance of completing a college degree, and more and more people are pursuing higher education,” says Beshear in a release. “That’s a good sign. But the cost of attending school can be prohibitive. I’m proud that we’ve found a way to make sure more students can continue their studies. These coal severance fund scholarships will surely help more of our students to achieve their goal of a college degree.”

To qualify for the scholarships, students must be from any of the following counties: Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin or Pike. They must also be juniors, seniors or nontraditional students in schools in those counties, including: the University of Pikeville, Alice Lloyd College or satellite campuses of Morehead State University, Lindsey Wilson, UPIKE or Lincoln Memorial.

Frankfort Local News

Coal Scholarship, Dropout Bills Won’t Be Added to Special Session Agenda

An education proposal favored by Kentucky House leadership will not be included in next week’s special session, effectively killing its chances this year.

A bill that began as a measure to bring the University of Pikeville into the state system morphed into one that would have created scholarships for college students from coal counties.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo was a major supporter of the legislation. He says even though the proposal had been changed multiple times, both chambers had reached a compromise. Despite that deal, the Senate did not pass the bill before adjourning the regular session for the year.

Governor Steve Beshear says he won’t add that bill to the special session’s agenda, to avoid prolonging the session.

“You know, we will take a look at whether we should add anything else to this call. But, these special sessions cost taxpayer’s $60,000 a day. We have agreement on these two bills. And I want them in here and out of here in five days and I think every Kentuckian wants the same. And so I don’t want to put anything on the call that might lengthen the special session,” he says.

Another bill that won’t be reconsidered is Beshear’s proposal to raise Kentucky’s drop out age to 18 years old. The special session’s agenda will include legislation to curb prescription drug abuse and a bill to fund the state’s road plan.

Frankfort Local News

Beshear Says He’ll Call Special Session To Pass Road Revenue, Prescription Pill Bills

The 2012 legislative session has come to a close.

Lawmakers spent most of their final day of the session yesterday waiting to finalize action on several bills, including many that were never passed.

The bills that didn’t make it to governor Steve Beshear’s desk run the gamut, from a bill to tighten restrictions on prescription painkillers to one that would have created a new scholarship for college students in coalfields communities.

Lawmakers did pass the two-year and six-year road plans, but apparently forgot to pass the funding bill needed to build the listed projects.

They also did not override any of the vetoes Governor Steve Beshear made to the executive budget.

Governor Beshear is blaming Republican Senate President David Williams for the last-minute death of key legislation. Beshear says he will issue a call for lawmakers to return for a special session on Monday. That will give them another chance to address road plan funding and the prescription pill bill.

Frankfort Local News

Future of Coal County Scholarship Program Uncertain

A bill to create a scholarship fund to help students from coal mining counties in Kentucky finish their education is once again in limbo.

House Bill 260 would create a fund to give scholarships to college juniors and seniors who finish their degrees at schools in coal-producing counties.

The program was originally meant only for students from eastern Kentucky, but it was expanded to apply to students from all 38 mining counties in the state.

The updated bill didn’t pass before lawmakers adjourned for a veto recess last week, leaving only one day for both chambers to approve the measure. House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he’s not sure why the Senate didn’t vote on the bill.

“Well some of us would like to see House Bill 260 come on down, you know as far as I know that one is an agreed to bill. I don’t know if they’re holding it because they think they can use it for leverage for something up here,” he says.

Senator Robert Stivers says his chamber didn’t intentionally ignore the bill. It simply got lost in the last-minute shuffle to pass a budget last week. 

When we return on the 12th, we will take that up,” he says, referring to the final legislative day this year, when lawmakers meet to override gubernatorial vetoes. 

Frankfort Local News

Budget Compromise Expands Coal County Scholarship Fund

A scholarship program intended to serve college students in far eastern Kentucky has been expanded.

What was originally called the Appalachian Scholarship Fund has been expanded to all coal-producing counties in Kentucky, including those in the western portion of the state. The program applies to students in the last two years of their education who attend a university, public or private, in a coal-producing county.

The intent was to keep eastern Kentucky students from leaving the area for college. But in order to get money for the program, House Speaker Greg Stumbo had to agree to the expansion.

The program has also lost its General Fund appropriation, meaning all scholarship funds must come from either coal severance money or private donations.

Out of 120 Kentucky counties, 38 of them are coal-producing.