Trooper pay, Freedom flag, first responders’ leave all advance

Measures making way through Legislature

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — A busy week in Frankfort concluded Friday with the Kentucky House of Representatives advancing a bill that will give most Kentucky State Police troopers raises.

It is one of several measures that gained approval.

House Bill 259 was approved by an 87-2 vote. The measure would permanently codify the salary increases allocated in House Bill 1, the proposed executive branch budget, for state police troopers and commercial vehicle enforcement officers.

Primary sponsor Rep. Scott Lewis, R-Hartford, said the bill ensures a $15,000 pay increase for troopers ranked below sergeant and a 10% pay raise for troopers ranked at and above sergeant.

“House Bill 1 and House Bill 259 would increase the starting pay of KSP troopers from the current $40,898 per year to $55,888 per year, making KSP the top five law enforcement agency when compared to other departments across our Commonwealth,” Lewis said.

Rep. Chris Fugate, R-Chavies, a retired KSP trooper, is also a co-sponsor of the bill. He said HB 259 would be “life changing” for troopers and the agency.

“We are allowed to have 1,150 troopers, and we are all the way down to 750,” Fugate said. “This will help in recruitment and retention.”

Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, said HB 259 is a “wonderful” bill, but she would like to see raises for teachers, social workers and judicial branch staff.

“If we can find the dollars for this, I hope we can find the dollars for them,” Westrom said.

Rep. Jim DuPlessis, R-Elizabethtown, also spoke on the House floor in favor of HB 259 while advocating for a different group of state employees to receive a raise: the state police officers who protect the state Capitol building.

“The state troopers who protect this Capitol are not part of this, and I like to think that maybe we can add them down at the Senate and bring it back here to have them get a raise as well,” DuPlessis said.

HB 259 will now go before the Senate for consideration.

Meanwhile, Friday on the House floor, state Rep. Myron Dossett, R-Pembroke, presented his bill HB 101, which would give the opportunity for the Freedom Flag to be flown along with the state flag as a Flag of Remembrance on September 11.

“It is important for young people to see this flag flown in remembrance of the American lives we lost on September 11, 2001, and we must never forget what happened on that fateful day. The Flag of Remembrance may be flown along with the American flag and the Kentucky state flag each September 11. I am proud to have brought this legislation to the legislature and am hopeful that everyone sees how important it is for this flag to be flown,” said Rep. Dossett.

The flag would be designed as follows:

  • The inner portion of the flag shall feature a blue background to represent all Americans united together for freedom
  • The blue background shall have a white star to represent all who lived and died for freedom
  • Five white bars shall surround the white star to represent the Pentagon and the organized protection of American freedom
  • The outer portion of the flag shall feature three white stripes, two narrow red stripes, and two broad red stripes
  • The three white stripes on the outer portion of the flag represent the rescue workers, firefighters, police officers, port authority employees, and others who worked tirelessly during and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001
  • The two broad red stripes on the outer portion of the flag represent the Twin Towers and the loss of the people who perished at the World Trade Center and the crew and passengers on American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175
  • The top narrow red stripe on the outer portion of the flag represents the loss of the people who perished at the Pentagon and the crew and passengers on American Airlines Flight 77
  • The bottom narrow red stripe on the outer portion of the flag represents the loss of the crew and passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

The legislation passed on the floor and is now waiting to be heard in the Senate. 

In addition, legislation that would provide a leave of absence to eligible state employees injured in the line of duty while serving the state or nation passed on the House floor. The bill, HB 345, is sponsored by Representative Matt Koch of Paris.

“This legislation will help take care of those who protect us. It is important for these men and women who serve in our National Guard to have their state employment position still open when they recover from a line-of-duty injury received while performing active duty or inactive duty. I am proud to have brought this legislation forth so we can help those who give so much to us,” said Koch.

Kentucky law already protects the state employment of those serving in the National Guard, any reserve component of the Armed Forces, or the reserve corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. HB 345 expands that statute to include those who are physically disabled as a result of an injury or illness related to their service. The provisions of the bill also apply to those who are entitled to incapacitation pay under eligibility requirements established by federal code.  

“The very least we can do for someone injured in the line of duty is ensure they have their job in place when they recuperate,” Koch added.

The legislation is now waiting to be heard in the Senate.

Categories: Local News, News, State News

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