Kentucky lawmakers advance bill to resettle war refugees

March 16, 2022 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A key Republican lawmaker unveiled a proposal Wednesday to set up a fund to help refugees from Ukraine and other war-torn countries resettle in Kentucky.

Sen. Chris McDaniel said his proposal reflects an opportunity where “public policy and human demand intersect,” citing the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine since Russian forces invaded.

The bill would apply broadly to families displaced by international conflicts, but the opportunity to resettle Ukrainians in Kentucky “is pretty dramatic” in coming months, McDaniel said.

His proposal was inserted Wednesday into a bill that won approval from the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee. The measure moves next to the full Senate.

Meanwhile, legislative leaders met Wednesday evening to begin the process of reconciling differences in the House and Senate two-year spending plans for the state. Wednesday marked the 49th day of this year’s 60-day legislative session.

The resettlement measure unveiled Wednesday would set up a fund to appropriate $10,000 for each family relocating to the Bluegrass State, McDaniel said. The assistance would go to up to 5,000 families displaced by international conflicts, including the war in Ukraine.

The bill also would establish a scholarship for the families’ children.

“As this year advances, there are probably going to be significant opportunities to help with the resettlement of these people, who wanted nothing but to be free,” McDaniel said.

Noting Kentucky’s workforce shortage, the state also would benefit from the program, he said.

McDaniel told his colleagues that he’s open to making adjustments to the bill. The measure still needs approval in the full Senate and in the House.