Kyeland Jackson

Republican Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is calling on Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear to set a firm “reopening” date for the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The demand comes as Republican-led states like Tennessee and Florida have almost entirely dropped pandemic-related restrictions and others have set dates when they will reopen further.

It also comes as the virus lingers, vaccination rates have dropped due to lack of demand, and public health experts say the United States won’t achieve herd immunity before this winter, if at all.

But Quarles argues people and businesses should be able to make their own decisions about how to stay safe during the pandemic.

Hardin Co. Chamber of Commerce

The Hardin County Chamber of Commerce has a new President and CEO. 

Following a three-month national search, Margy Poorman has been hired to lead the business organization. 

Poorman previously served as director of economic development for the city of Canton, Ohio.  Most recently, she was the public policy and legislative coordinator for AultCare, a health insurance provider in the Buckeye State.

During an announcement on Tuesday in Elizabethtown, Poorman said she looks forward to promoting a community where Fort Knox plays a significant role.

A left-leaning public policy group in Kentucky says a student loan debt plan from President Biden would have a huge impact on the state’s college graduates. 

new analysis from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy finds that 80 percent of Kentucky student loan borrowers could have all of their loans forgiven if a plan becomes a reality. 

Student loan forgiveness has been on Biden’s agenda since announcing his presidential bid. Because of the increased attention to the student debt crisis, the president is reportedly working to clarify his power to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt. Originally, his goal was to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt.

Liam James Doyle/NPR

 The American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11 provided the nation with a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus, including funds to state and local governments, but local officials around the Ohio Valley say they aren’t yet sure just how the money can be applied.  

The aid package includes $350 billion set aside for state and local governments to help communities recover from the pandemic, with about $17.5 billion for Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Now the question is how those communities will put the money to use.

Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said in a press release that she was proud of her colleagues for listening to governors, mayors, workers, tribes, and others who were in need of aid.

Adam Schultz

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan contains tens of billions of dollars to address environmental and economic issues throughout the Ohio Valley region, according to details released Wednesday by the White House.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had promised a major infrastructure initiative, but one never got traction during his four years in office.

Speaking in Pittsburgh Wednesday, Biden called his plan the largest jobs investment since World War II. 

“It’s not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America, unlike anything we’ve seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago.”

J. Tyler Franklin

The Republican-led legislature passed a flurry of bills on the last day before Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto period, including more than $200 million in tax breaks, controversial education policies and a measure ensuring Mitch McConnell is replaced by a Republican if he leaves office.

And the legislature continued to weaken Beshear’s powers during the pandemic, passing a measure to fine the governor’s office more than $900,000 if it spends any federal coronavirus relief money without the legislature’s approval.

If Beshear vetoes any of the bills, lawmakers can easily override him when they return for the final two days of session on March 29 and 30.

Margaret O'Donnell

Kentuckians pushing to lift people out of poverty and guarantee access to voting took part in a car caravan in Frankfort on Monday.

The Poor People’s Campaign organized car caravans in more than 25 states, including Kentucky, in an ongoing series of nationwide demonstrations the group calls "Moral Mondays." 

Kentucky supporters of the Poor People’s Campaign made their voices heard by driving in a "pandemic safe" caravan around the state capitol.

The caravan was followed by an outdoor news conference and two members of the group - wearing masks - going into the building to deliver printed copies of 14 demands to state legislators. Those demands are related to social justice and ending poverty. 

Updated March 10, 2021 at 3:23 PM ET

House lawmakers Wednesday gave final approval to President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, sending the legislation to his desk for his signature. The White House says Biden plans to sign it on Friday.

"This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation — the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going — a fighting chance," Biden said in a statement Wednesday.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky’s state and local governments will get about $4 billion from the federal coronavirus relief bill making its way through Congress, according to Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration. That’s in addition to the $5 billion individuals in Kentucky stand to get from stimulus checks, an extension of unemployment benefits and other programs.

The figures come as lawmakers are trying to put the finishing touches on a one-year state budget after a year of economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

John Hicks, Kentucky’s state budget director, said the administration is still waiting for the relief package to pass and for formal instructions from the federal government.

Benny Becker

The newest version of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, is nearing final approval by the House before going to President Joe Biden. During his regular COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the state would receive $2.6 billion which would allow for a “once in a generation investment in infrastructure.” 

Beshear pointed to potential investments in broadband, water and sewer infrastructure and repairs and upgrades in areas that have been hit by flooding.

“When you look at those areas that experienced significant flooding, a lot of them have water and sewer projects that need to be done. The capacity was exceeded in a number of these towns,” Beshear said. “And we’d have a chance if we spend this right to help those areas be more resilient to these types of flash floods or other disasters in the future.”

Updated at 12:56 p.m. ET

The Senate approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan Saturday, securing additional aid for American families, workers and businesses — and a legislative victory for the Biden administration.

After more than 24 hours of debate, the evenly divided Senate voted 50-49 to approve the measure. Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska was absent because he was in Alaska for a family funeral.

Becca Schimmel

Kentucky state officials said no data was stolen during a breach of the unemployment insurance system this week.

Amy Cubbage, general counsel with the Kentucky unemployment office, said at Thursday’s state coronavirus briefing that the breach happened Wednesday morning. The Commonwealth Office of Technology responded by implementing safeguards during the login process.

“The good news is that our Commonwealth Office of Technology and our office of unemployment recognized the issue, and they were able to prevent any intrusion into the system,” Cubbage said. “They are monitoring closely for any additional attempts, but they did stellar work in protecting our UI system from the breach. No UI user’s data was stolen.”

Corinne Boyer | Ohio Valley ReSource

Kentuckians who need help paying rent and utilities during the pandemic can now apply for available funds online.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced during a coronavirus briefing Monday that the commonwealth has received $297 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for eviction relief.

“The healthy at home eviction relief fund follows earlier similar efforts to help our people stay in their homes, to pay their bills to landlords and to utilities and to get out of this pandemic without suffering from a significant amount of debt,” he said.

Beshear said tenants and landlords can apply; Tenants have to meet certain requirements. Late fees charges for past due rent must also be forgiven. 

Adam Schultz

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to cripple the economy in the Ohio Valley and President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats are pursuing his plan for economic recovery.

Biden’s economic priorities include raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, forgiving student loan debt, and undoing some Trump-era tax cuts. But Biden’s immediate focus is on his “American Rescue Plan” for economic recovery and ending the pandemic. Last month Biden laid out his two-step plan for rescue and recovery. 

“The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight,” Biden said while giving an address about the plan. “We have to act, and we have to act now.”Regional economists have weighed in on what the Ohio Valley needs and many are in agreement that the region is in need of financial aid, job creation and security, and a national plan to end the pandemic.