Local legislators meet with residents

Rep. Brandon Reed and Sen. Jimmy Higdon listened to constituent concerns during the recent Hodgenville-LaRue County Legislative Coffee event. 

A Hodgenville-LaRue County Legislative Coffee recently offered local residents an opportunity to chat with state law-makers Senator Jimmy Higdon and Representative Brandon Reed.

The town-hall style event allowed Higdon and Reed a chance to engage with constituents in an informal, small group setting before gathering attendees to share what they’ll be focusing on during the 30-day regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly. The event was held Friday, Jan. 13 in Hodgenville and was hosted by Fresh Start Farms.

Reed spoke to House Bill 1 which will reduce the state income tax from 4.5% to 4% on January 1, 2024, all a part of a greater goal to make Kentucky tax rates more competitive with bordering states such as Tennessee and Indiana. Each year that certain fiscal thresholds are met, the tax will be reduced by half a% with the intention of continuing until it is at 3%.

Higdon mentioned upcoming topics of interest including daylight savings time, juvenile justice, sports betting and electric vehicles. He also informed the group that the State Senate has recently formed a task force that will examine the staffing and administrative structure of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Local LaRue Countians, such as Lanny Vincent, also posed questions regarding the current employment shortage and what measures legislators will be taking to address unemployment and help get more Kentuckians back to work.

“I’m sure you guys are aware of it, but we have got to do something to get people back to work,” said Vincent. “It hurts us economically because they’re not paying income taxes.”

Vincent also asked the pair what they are doing with regard to government assistance programs in the state. Reed explained that the state currently has $800 million in the unemployment insurance fund and is currently $200 million away from being considered solvent for the first time since 1960.

Reed answered, “As soon as you lose your job right now in Kentucky you start a timeline where every week you have to make so many efforts, so many job interviews, and you get some money upfront. As you progress to that 13 or 14 week you get less and less money out of unemployment, which incentivizes you to go get a job.”

Fresh Start Farms owner Ryan Bivens raised concerns about the BlueOval SK Battery Park currently under construction in Glendale and about the education system, with other locals, such as David Pepper, voicing their agreement to the concerns.

Sen. Higdon addressed the concerns about education and spoke of upcoming legislation, with Rep. Reed adding, “One of the bills that you’ll probably see in the next couple of years is putting more power back into the families for you all to make education choices for your kids yourself.”

The statesmen also welcomed LaRue County Judge Executive Blake Durrett and Magistrates Darin Williams, Ricky Whitlock and Larry Howell and offered them an opportunity to introduce themselves and share with the group.

Durrett spoke of the grants received to upgrade amenities in the county. “We’ve received several grants”, stating they will all be occurring at the same time.

“I think there’s a lot of growth that’s coming into LaRue County over the next few years. We want to make sure it’s the right growth,“ said first- term Magistrate Darin Williams. “I want to be a part of that. I hope my industrial background and my connections to a lot of industrial folks will be beneficial to the county.”

While this event served as an opportunity for elected officials to meet with their constituents, those who were unable to attend or may have further questions can contact their local and state representatives using the following contact information.

County Officials

Judge-Executive — Blake Durrett; 270-358-4400, blake@laruecounty.org

Magistrate District 1 — Darin Williams; 270-766-8283

Magistrate District 2 — Ricky Whitlock; 270-358-9924

Magistrate District 3 — Dean Higdon; 270-735-7450

Magistrate District 4 — Larry Howell; 270-765-9635

State Officials

State Senator — Jimmy Higdon; Home 270-692-6945, Annex 502-564-8100, jimmy.higdon@LRC.ky.gov

State Representative — Brandon Reed; Work 270-358-0868, Annex 502-564-8100 ext. 684, Brandon.Reed@LRC.ky.gov