, Corbin, KY

Local News

April 3, 2007

Lawmakers facing special session

Siler expecting call from governor

By Fred Petke / Staff Writer

Legislators may be returning to Frankfort to take a second run at timely legislation, including economic funding for the communities around Lake Cumberland.

State Rep. Charlie Siler (R-Williamsburg) said he thought Gov. Ernie Fletcher could call the session prior to the May primary, but things are still being negotiated with the legislature’s leaders.

“He has served notice we will be called back,” Siler said.

At the top of the list will be the coal severance funding which was vetoed last year and died this year after a teacher funding clause was tacked on, he said. The state pension system was on the list as well with $25 million in economic support for towns that rely on tourist traffic from Lake Cumberland, he said.

The dam that formed the lake needs to be repaired and the water level has been lowered to accommodate that. Lower water means better fishing, Siler said, but makes it more dangerous for boaters. Boat ramps, also, won’t be long enough to reach the water, he said, like one on Bee Creek and in Bald Rock in southern Whitley County. Other communities may not be able to draw water from the lake to serve its residents, he said.

“They’re essential to our economy,” Siler said. “The Corps of Engineers is bearing the cost of the dam repairs. “There’s a lot of work to do.”

The coal severance money is still sitting in escrow in the state’s hands, he said, and allocating the money will likely be on the agenda should the General Assembly be called for a special session.

Leftover from this year’s session are preparations for the World Equestrian Games, which will be in Lexington in October 2010.

When the session will be called is still being debated. Siler said Senate President David Williams, who also represents Whitley County, suggested reaching a contempt agreement with Fletcher before calling the session. In theory, it will speed the session and the process along and make it more productive, he said. If so, the work could be completed in a matter of days.

Fred Petke can be reached at fpetke@thetimes

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