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Legislature ready to resume work after winter weather delay

BY SEN. RALPH ALVARADO

Severe winter weather that blanketed the commonwealth last week has left thousands without electricity and some even without heat. It is my sincere hope that you and your family remained safe and warm.

I stay inspired by the committed work of our linemen and road workers who braved the elements to keep the world turning for all of us. Also deserving credit are local officials who have taken the necessary action to provide a local response amid power outages, and of course, our first responders who remain on duty rain, sleet or shine.

Due to the condition of roadways and low temperatures, official legislative work was postponed last week. The safety of staff and members was prioritized. Rather than getting on treacherous roads, meetings were held virtually, and work was done remotely where it could be. No committee meetings were held, nor was there any activity in the House or Senate chambers. The General Assembly was scheduled to reconvene on Monday, Feb. 22, at 4 p.m.

Even though the session was postponed, the legislature remains focused on its efforts. I look forward to returning to Frankfort this week to continue working on your behalf and for our state and the 28th District’s betterment.

I am receiving calls from constituents asking when they can get their COVID-19 vaccinations. Many are reaching out on behalf of elderly parents or those with underlying health conditions who are more susceptible to the virus. One of the most challenging elements of distribution has been a limited supply, but a high demand. It is good news that demand is high. That means people are willing to be vaccinated, which means we can get back to normality sooner rather than later. As a doctor, I encourage everyone to choose to get vaccinated when it becomes available to them.

The best I can offer those inquiring about the vaccine distribution is an encouragement to visit this link: govstatus.egov.com/ky-covid-vaccine to view all the latest information regarding the state’s distribution efforts. The website provides details on how a vaccine may be received, along with the distribution phases outlined by the Department for Public Health. If you have trouble accessing the internet, please call 855-598-2246 or (800) 722-5725 with any questions you may have about getting registered to get your vaccination.

A significant development we learned about recently is related to the tens of thousands of outstanding unemployment claims that have yet to be resolved. During such inclement weather, I cannot help but think about the individuals who have struggled to pay their bills and who have not received the unemployment benefits that may allow them to do so.

A recent report published by Kentucky State Auditor Mike Harmon indicates that over 400,000 emails sent to the administration regarding unemployment claims have yet to be opened. There are no doubt people here in our district whose claims have yet to receive attention. Additionally, it appears some payments were backdated, and some folks received benefits for which they did not qualify for. The full report lists additional findings. You can find it at auditor.ky.gov.

I know many people continue to struggle, and severe weather only serves to make life more difficult. Please know that you remain in my prayers. Do not hesitate to reach out to my office if I can be of any assistance to you. Please feel free to call me about these issues or any other public policy issue toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Ralph.Alvarado@LRC.ky.gov.

Be sure to follow severe weather safety tips. By visiting kyem.ky.gov, you can find useful information to prepare for bad weather. Join me in continued prayer for our local road department workers, linemen, first responders and everyone who may be struggling right now. I trust that brighter and warmer days are ahead of us.

Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, represents the 28th State Senate District, including Clark and Montgomery counties and the eastern portion of Fayette County. He serves as chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. He is also a member of the Senate standing committees on State and Local Government, Banking and Insurance, and the Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources. Additionally, he serves as a member of the Medicaid Oversight and Advisory Statutory Committee.