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Bill aimed at helping Kentucky’s underfunded water systems advances to Senate floor

pixabay.com

The Senate Committee on Agriculture passed a bill Wednesday that would help fund struggling water systems across Kentucky’s rural areas.

House Bill 563 would establish two revolving funds for those water systems. One would more easily allow them to apply for loans to help with maintenance and upgrades. The other is an emergency fund that would help restore service after disasters.

Josh Bray, a Republican from District 74, is a sponsor of the bill. He said during the meeting that the bill is meant to address water systems that don’t qualify for normal funding.

“We have serious issues with districts who struggled to operate normally,” Bray said. “So we felt like we needed to provide a capital structure to where they could get the capital that they need.”

Bray says the second fund is meant to help residents as quickly as possible.

“Whether that be the hard freezes we saw back in January, you know, the city of Albany was out of water for about two weeks,” Bray said. “And so we wanted to make sure that those districts had access to immediate capital to get services restored.”

A third section of the bill would encourage “regionalization” by adding a temporary relief period from fines when a utility is sold. The buyer would then make any necessary improvements.

The bill passed through the House earlier this month and is now able to be read on the Senate floor.

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Shepherd joined WEKU in June 2023 as a staff reporter. He most recently worked for West Virginia Public Broadcasting as General Assignment Reporter. In that role, he collected interviews and captured photos in the northern region of West Virginia. Shepherd holds a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Communication and a bachelor’s in music from West Virginia University.
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