Tornado victims in 21 Kentucky counties that were declared disaster areas by President Obama after the March 2 tornadoes would get a sales tax break on materials they purchase for rebuilding their houses or other structures.
The emergency measure received its final approval in the House of Representatives late Friday night and will be sent to Gov. Steve Beshear for his signature.
Democratic Rep. John Will Stacy of West Liberty, the town demolished by a tornado that night, led the effort to pass the bill, which had overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature.
The bill would authorize the state treasury to refund the 6 percent state sales tax for three years for building materials the owners purchase if they rebuild in the counties where their losses occurred and present the state with the receipts and proof of their losses by their insurance companies or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The cost has yet to be estimated but Brian Wilkerson, a spokesman for the speaker of the House, Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said lawmakers expected the cost to the state to be minimal because the materials purchased would be from sales that would not have occurred had it not been for the storm damage. Also, it only applies to those counties where the damage occurred and owners have to show proof.
The bill would also provide relief for schools and school employees in those counties.
The school districts would be given 10 extra disaster days that won’t count toward their average daily attendance numbers to ensure that they don’t lose funding.
School employees in those districts also would not lose any of their pay or benefits as a result of work days lost because of the storms. They would have to complete their work, but the work could be done in areas other than those in which they are regularly assigned.
The tornado assistance bill was one of the last pieces of legislation lawmakers voted on before leaving town until they return for the end of the session the week of April 12.
They accomplished the emergency legislation in a short amount of time by removing the language from a “green schools” energy efficiency bill and replacing it with the tornado relief bill’s wording.