Second District U.S. Congressman Brett Guthrie visited Hancock County Monday, meeting with local education and government leadership to learn about local needs and priority projects he could likely assist with.
Guthrie (R-Bowling Green) made stops at North Hancock Elementary School – where he talked to fifth-grade students about the separation of powers in federal government and his life in Washington – and at the Hancock County Administration Building.
At the county government offices, Guthrie met with Judge/Executive Johnny “Chic” Roberts; magistrates L.T. Newton, Kasey Emmick, and John Mark Gray; local journalists; and concerned citizens.
“With the challenges of COVID-19 over the past couple of years, I have not had the chance to get out into the district for face-to-face meetings as much as in the past,” Guthrie said. “It is important to have these meetings to be able to talk with local leadership about the region and local needs, especially those which can benefit from federal programs and funding.”
Guthrie said his priorities in Washington continue to be the oversight role of Congress, along with legislation which will not only help his district, but the state and nation, remain competitive in the economy and prepared for continuing improvement.
Roberts told Guthrie the priorities for Hancock County at this time remain broadband access in the rural portions of the county and the use of American Rescue Plan and Infrastructure Act monies to continue infrastructure and facilities improvements.
The county is currently in the process of utilizing $1.7 million in ARPA funds to upgrade the emergency radio communications network for first responders, as well as applying for grant funding to upgrade the county’s severe weather warning siren system.
“The broadband issue seems a bit more of a state matter at this point, but it is no less important,” Roberts said. “I know there are federal priorities to expand access, as well, so any assistance on that matter would be appreciated.”
Kenergy Electric Cooperative is currently in the waiver application process before the Kentucky Public Service Commission in its efforts to get a broadband project off the ground in its 14-county service area. A hearing on that matter is currently scheduled for March 31.
“Most of the funding in the bill was for existing programs for road projects and other infrastructure projects,” Guthrie said. “Those are programs administered by the states. For the other funding in new programs, it could be another six months before those rules are finished.”
Another issue of importance locally is updated Commercial Driver License requirements, which added a rule for an accredited training program for entry-level drivers. The training programs can cost thousands of dollars, and Roberts said it could be a major obstacle for county government to fill roles within the Road Department.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration changes came on Feb. 7, with the changes first introduced in 2020 but delayed by the Trump Administration. Guthrie said he would look into the matter as it relates to local government fleets, which rarely leave their home county and almost never travel interstate.
Related to the ongoing war in Ukraine being pushed by Vladimir Putin of Russia, Guthrie said he supports continuing economic sanctions against the government and prominent Russians.
As for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s continued calls for a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine, Guthrie said such an action would require American air assets in the skies over the east Europe nation.
“A no-fly zone would require taking out (Russian) air defense systems, most of which are located on Russian soil on the Ukrainian border,” he said. “American planes destroying Russian military equipment and shooting down Russian planes would be certain to escalate the conflict to the rest of Europe.”
Guthrie first entered Congress in 2009, and is currently seeking reelection to his eighth term. He serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as the Health Subcommittee, the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, and the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee.
By C. Josh Givens