melinda gibbons prunty CURRENTBELTON, Ky. (1/20/20) — We have completed our first full week of legislative work. But, besides committee work and being on the House floor, several other events took place this week that I would like to share.

On Monday, I joined Democrats and Republican Legislators, both representatives and senators, in helping to fill a little more than 2,000 bags of non-perishable food for Feeding Kentucky. It is a passion of our Floor Leader “Bam” Carney and was carried out in his honor. www.feedingamericaky.org.

Bam had a setback last Friday but has had an encouraging week this week. He underwent several procedures to continue to rid his body of infection. Several members have gone to visit and he is recognizing many, even though sedated. In his absence Speaker Pro Tem Meade has been filling in but since bills are going to start moving this week, Rep. Steven Rudy has been named the Floor Manager.

On Tuesday, I attended the Coalition for a Smoke Free Tomorrow Rally that was organized by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. Youth vaping is out of control in Kentucky and must be addressed. We heard from several youth, one who shared her story about becoming addicted after vaping only one time and her struggle to stop. She is a sophomore in high school from Paducah. https://www.smokefreetomorrow.org/ https://www.healthy-ky.org/.

On Tuesday evening, we heard Gov. Beshear give his first State of the Commonwealth Address in a joint convening of the House and the Senate. He will speak to us again jointly on Jan. 28 to present his budget.

On Wednesday, I attended and spoke briefly at the Kentucky Right to Life Annual Rally in the Rotunda. The keynote speaker was our new Attorney General, Daniel Cameron. He vowed to stand up for life and defend the pro-life bills that we have passed these past three years.

It was awkward being outside the new governor’s office, who is an abortion rights supporter of record, given it had just been announced the day before in the Louisville Courier-Journal that his administration has informed Planned Parenthood that they can reapply for a license to open an abortion clinic in Louisville and that the lawsuit against them has been dropped. Attendees of the rally were encouraged to stop by the Governor’s office and voice their support for life. Whatever your position, you can also let your voice be heard by calling 502-564-2611 to leave a message for Governor Beshear and/or Lt. Gov. Coleman. www.krla.org https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/ky-legislature/2020/01/14/planned-parenthood-free-seek-kentucky-abortion-license-state-says/4465314002/.

Committee meetings began on Tuesday and continued through Thursday. The two top priorities of the House have been set as Public Assistance Reform and addressing Human Trafficking in the Commonwealth. The goal of HB 1 will be to help empower individuals move from public assistance into the workforce by extending some programs, such as health insurance, until they reach financial independence.

It is motivated by the work of the Public Assistance Task Group that worked long and hard over the summer and fall. The goal will be to wean people off, not push them off or make it impossible for them to enter the workforce. I believe that the single mothers I have talked to throughout the district that want to work will be encouraged by it.

Legislators are working alongside Attorney General Cameron to draft a bill to address human trafficking in the Commonwealth. The goals are to raise awareness about the issue and make victims aware of the resources that are available to them.

I explored a Human Trafficking Exhibit at the Education Center that is located next to the Governor’s Mansion on January 10th. I took a survey as I walked through the exhibit and was surprised by what I learned. Did you know that 30 percent of Kentucky teens reported meeting someone in-person that they had met online? That was only one of 12 facts addressed on the survey, instituteforsheltercare.org.

Personally, I was excited to see several constituents during the week. Some attended to speak about gun control issues and concerns, several members of the Hopkins County Education Association met to discuss education issues, I spoke to some at the KY Professional Firefighters Association/KY Firefighters Association/KY Fire Chiefs Association’s annual chili supper, I spoke with Hopkins County representatives at the KCTCS Meet & Greet as well as from the Hopkins County Health Department advocating for public health reform, met with constituents about budget issues regarding conservation districts as well as attended the Kentucky Conservation District Association’s (KCDA) annual reception, and was able to introduce a constituent in the Health and Family Services Committee who was there advocating for Emergency Medicine issues.

It was an exceptional honor to have Joe Mack and Mischelle Nelson in the gallery of the House Chamber on Wednesday when I called up a Citation of Adjournment honoring former State Representative Charles Laman “Preacher” Nelson. As you may know, Preacher passed away on Oct. 28, 2019. He served for eight years as the Gentleman from Muhlenberg.

I have been working on various issues for both organizations and individual constituents throughout the days here thus far. Requests come in almost daily that people need assistance with and I am glad to see if there is anything that I can do or find a resource for them.

Back in the district I was proud to be a table sponsor as well as serve as one of four judges at the Muhlenberg County Humane Society’s Annual Chili Supper and Silent Auction Fundraiser on Friday night. It was well attended and Mayor Tony Armour won first place in the chili contest out of twelve entries. The judges were full by the time we finished tasting 12 bowls of chili!

On Saturday, I had the privilege of bringing greetings from our State Capitol to Hopkins County’s 38th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration held in Madisonville. The interpretive dance was both impressive and inspiring as well as all of the music groups and speakers. The event is always well organized and executed and displays well Dr. King’s legacy of sharing the message in a respectful way.

We celebrate on the 20th what would have been Dr. King’s 91st birthday. He left us a great example of being bold, speaking the truth in a non-violent way without backing down. He demonstrated compassion and self-control in order to be heard and did not let rhetoric or argumentative speech cloud the message he was trying to convey. We would all do well to learn from him.

At the celebration they played a YouTube video called, “If I had Sneezed.” It would be worth looking up and watching. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgq61-owOG8.

FYI, Mr. Darryl VanLeer will portray Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the House floor at the opening of Session on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. CT/2:00 p.m. ET. That evening he will perform “The Life of Dr. King” at the Grand Theatre in Frankfort from 5:00-6:00 p.m. CT/6:00-7:00 ET. The event is free and open to the public. I’m sure he would especially appreciate anyone from his home district attending if possible. Mr. VanLeer grew up in Madisonville and now resides in Nashville.

As always, I welcome your comments and concerns on any issue and can be reached, regardless if in session or not, through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at-1-800-372-7181, at 502-564-8100 Ext. 686, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please follow me on Facebook @melindagibbonsprunty. You can also keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation by watching live on KET or through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.legislature.ky.gov.

Note: Representative Melinda Gibbons Prunty represents the 15th House District serving Muhlenberg and southeast Hopkins counties which includes White Plains, Morton’s Gap, Anton as well as sections of Nortonville, Earlington and SE Madisonville. She is Vice-Chair of the Health & Family Services Committee as well as the Budget Review Sub-Committee on Health & Family Services. She serves as a member on, the Appropriations & Revenue, Medicaid Oversight and Advisory, Education, and Natural Resources & Energy Committees as well as the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Advisory Committee. http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/ColonCancer.htm.

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