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Beshear confirms weather-related death, again criticizes GOP emergency spending limits • Kentucky Lantern

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Gov. Andy Beshear said a Kenton County resident died in a car accident as a result of the severe storms and tornadoes that hit Kentucky on Tuesday, while emergency management officials reported no other serious injuries or deaths.

Beshear, in a news conference Wednesday, praised emergency management officials, first responders and utility workers for their response during the severe weather outbreak.

“This storm and associated tornadoes had a nationwide impact, impacting numerous areas,” Beshear said. “I’m so grateful that Kentuckians have remained so weather conscious.”

The governor said the Kenton County death occurred “as that first series of strong storms and rains came through” and that the young man's death was a “tragic event.”

Beshear said federal weather agencies are still surveying, but preliminary investigations by the National Weather Service have confirmed separate EF-1 tornadoes in Anderson, Nelson, Jessamine and Bourbon counties, as well as another EF-1 tornado that hit the city Prospect in Jefferson and Oldham counties. Other counties, including some in eastern Kentucky, could suffer tornado damage, he said. He said he expects at least seven tornadoes to be confirmed once investigations are complete.

The governor said emergency requests have been received from Union County in the west to Elliott County in the east. Cities across the state had also declared states of emergency, including Ashland, Louisville, Mount Vernon and Catlettsburg.

In addition, Beshear urged Kentuckians to take photos and document any damage before the cleanup to help the state Are eligible for federal disaster assistanceespecially to qualify for individual help.

New legal limits on emergency response administration spending

Beshear also renewed calls for the Republican-dominated state Legislature to lift funding restrictions on agencies that respond to emergencies and disasters in the upcoming state budget. Beshear said his administration would not have been able to respond to Tuesday's severe weather had such funding limits been in place.

“We made this appeal to the leadership on both sides. I admittedly don't understand why it's still there when these are our neighbors in Kentucky,” Beshear said, mentioning that if funding limits remain in place, he may have to call a special session of the Legislature in an emergency to raise money for a response to provide. “It’s just not smart policymaking.”

Emails to spokespeople for Republican leadership in the Kentucky Senate and the Kentucky House of Representatives asking about Beshear's renewed calls were not immediately returned.

The latest version of House law 6 – the state budget of the executive branch, approved by the legislature on the last day before its adjournment Veto deadline – sets various funding limits for emergency measures:

  • A $4 million limit for “emergency wildfire response” in each fiscal year.
  • A $50 million cap for each of the next two fiscal years on funds that the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs can use to supplement federal disaster funding “in the event of a presidentially declared disaster or emergency.”
  • A $25 million per fiscal year cap on Kentucky National Guard deployments when the governor declares an “emergency or urgent situation.”

Give a gift in one Press conference in March pointed to the next budget's $25 million funding limit for the Kentucky National Guard and said housing at General Butler State Park would not have been able to open for tornado survivors in Trimble County if the funding limit set by the Legislature applied to the current fiscal year.

In a letter sent to lawmakers in January, state Budget Director John Hicks said the $50 million limit for matching federal aid funds has not been exceeded in past fiscal years but could be exceeded in the current fiscal year. Hicks said in his letter that the $4 million cap for “emergency wildfire response” was never exceeded.

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