Legislation Supporting Workforce Development signed by Gov. Beshear
Gov. Beshear Signs Legislation Supporting Workforce Development
Bills support military families, health care workers, truck drivers, students, school employees
FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 22, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear joined lawmakers to sign five pieces of legislation that support workforce development and the state’s booming economy.
“For the first time in my lifetime, some of the biggest, most advanced companies on the planet are picking us for the biggest investments they’ve ever made. Our small businesses are also thriving and growing,” Gov. Beshear said. “Today, we’re doing even more to support our workforce by signing bills that aim to build on our progress.”
Gov. Beshear signed Senate Bill 57, which allows military spouses who are licensed cosmetologists in another state to easily work here in Kentucky. This bill assists service members and their spouses when they must move to best serve our country, and it is priority legislation for the U.S. Department of Defense.
The Governor said the bill builds on legislation he signed last year that made it easier for military spouses to obtain other occupational licenses, and it complements the work his administration is doing to make Kentucky the most military-friendly state.
“We are so thankful for all our military members,” Gov. Beshear said. “You all work tirelessly, whether it is that one weekend a month or on a long deployment to help another country or to defend our freedoms. We appreciate you and your families, your employers and your community for your continued sacrifice and service.”
This legislation was sponsored by Sen. Amanda Mays Bledsoe of Lexington.
“It’s just a privilege to be a small part in this legislation. It really is about helping military families, reducing barriers to employment and helping their families grow,” said Senator Bledsoe. “It is such a blessing to help them do this. I am so thankful to my constituents and others for making this possible.”
The Governor signed House Bill 200, which continues the administration’s work to address the nursing shortage. HB 200 supports these efforts by creating an innovative public-private partnership program to support scholarships and improve and grow high-need health care programs.
The bill creates the Healthcare Workforce Investment Fund. The fund enables the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), health care programs and health care providers and facilities to match public and private dollars for the purpose of awarding scholarships to eligible students and health care incentives to eligible health care programs.
“Employers across the state and nation are struggling to find workers who are ready, willing and able to join the workforce, and I know there are a number of efforts to address this. HB 200 is focused on one critical area, health care,” said Rep. Ken Fleming of Louisville. “This measure addresses Kentucky’s persistent shortage of health care professionals by incentivizing health care education and licensing programs, health care industry partners and the commonwealth to collaborate to quickly strengthen education and training pipelines of health care professions to better serve patients. I appreciate the Governor moving quickly to sign it into law and look forward to working together to accomplish the next step.”
CPE President Dr. Aaron Thompson said, “We are dedicated to working with our legislature, the Governor’s Office and private partners to build the pipeline of health care workers. I want to thank the Governor for signing HB 200 into law, and thank Representative Fleming for building this piece of legislation.”
The Governor signed House Bill 320, sponsored by Rep. Chris Freeland of Benton, which makes it easier for Kentucky to attract more drivers to our trucking industry. It allows an applicant who has a nonresident operator’s license and a commercial driver’s instruction permit to take the CDL skills test within the state of Kentucky.
“This is a change that shows we are interested in attracting more of these jobs to Kentucky and supporting the trucking industry,” Gov. Beshear said.
Rep. Freeland said, “HB 320 places us on a level playing field with neighboring states and eliminates an unnecessary burden to attracting the men and women we need to drive trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles. This is a common-sense piece of legislation and a win-win for our commonwealth. I want to thank the Governor for recognizing the need and look forward to working with the Kentucky State Police as they implement the change.”
The Governor signed Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Sen. Jared Carpenter of Berea, which opens Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) eligibility to students attending proprietary schools that are not eligible to participate in the Federal Pell Grant program.
The scholarship currently helps high school graduates participating in an approved registered apprenticeship or qualified workforce training program to request reimbursement of approved expenses from their KEES earnings instead of having the funds sent to an eligible Kentucky college or university.
Under this bill, students must be enrolled in programs deemed high demand by the Workforce Innovation Board. Examples of these programs could include nursing and welding programs. The bill also clarifies that students are eligible to earn KEES dollars if they attend accredited out-of-state high schools or Department of Defense schools as a result of the parent's or guardian’s military transfer outside of Kentucky, and the student earned a KEES base amount at a Kentucky high school prior the military transfer outside of Kentucky.
“This bill supports our military families as well as students wanting to attend proprietary schools so they can fill much-needed job openings in high-demand fields,” Gov. Beshear said. “I would like to thank Sen. Carpenter for sponsoring this bill.”
Gov. Beshear signed House Bill 32, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Jackson of Bowling Green, which provides more opportunities for our school districts to hire school workers and then helps them obtain the High School Equivalency Diploma at no cost to the employee.
“We know to truly meet the needs of our future workforce, we must have enough teachers in our classrooms and classified employees in our schools carrying out critical functions like making sure the children have healthy food and can get to school safely on the bus,” Gov. Beshear said. “This bill is a win-win-win. It gets more Kentuckians into the workforce. It helps support their educational achievements. And it helps our schools and students.”
“I appreciate the Governor and the administration for recognizing the impact this law will have. Classified school personnel are the key support staff – the cafeteria workers, custodians, front office, bus drivers and other employees – who make it possible to educate students every day,” Rep. Jackson said. “HB 32 provides school districts with another tool to address the staff shortage they and so many other industries face. However, it also provides an opportunity for those who want to get their GED or diploma.”
Other measures Gov. Beshear has taken to support the state’s workforce include working to remove barriers that keep Kentuckians out of the workforce.
The administration has focused on removing health roadblocks for many Kentuckians in accessing dental, vision and hearing care.
To make childcare more accessible to more Kentuckians, the Governor has asked the General Assembly to fund universal pre-K, which has proven to be the fastest way to help more parents – especially moms – get back to work. It is also the best way to ensure every Kentucky child is kindergarten ready.
This past November, the Governor announced new programs aimed at transitioning people from incarceration to employment. The administration has also launched programs to help employers guide their workers to addiction services when in need, to establish Recovery Ready Communities and to create pathways to help more people struggling with addiction.
Gov. Beshear is also supporting our vital health care workforce by working with industry partners to address issues like our nursing shortage, and he previously signed legislation that helps colleges and universities expand their nursing programs.
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