Bi­par­tisan Group of Lawmakers Create “Engage & Empower” Caucus

BY MICHON LINDSTROM KENTUCKY

FRANKFORT- A new caucus aimed at helping those with disabilities was formed Tuesday. 

The Engage & Empower Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral caucus co-chaired by Democrat Rep. Al Gentry, D-Louisville, and Republican Rep. Brandon Reed, R-Hodgenville. 

The main goal of the caucus is to better address the needs of Kentuckians with legislation to help those with disabilities. 

“The primary focus of this caucus, is to provide pathways to personal achievement and self-sustainability,” said Rep. Gentry. “It’s one thing that I’ve experience tremendously in my life, and you can define that differently from individual to individual. Whether it’s a career opportunity, so they can take care of their family. Or if it’s just unassisted simple tasks that you learn to do. All of that generates self-confidence and self-esteem.” 

“The challenges that people with disabilities face are not defined by political party or any urban/rural divide, and those issues have no impact, either, on the Engage & Empower Caucus,” Rep. Reed said.  “We may come from different parties and different parts of the state, but we all want to do what we can to bring the private and public sectors together in a way that truly benefits everyone.  We’ve seen the success of this bipartisan work in our adoption and foster care policies and in making our schools safer; this caucus is built on that very same model.”

They have several pieces of legislation they are championing this session. Including, HB 8 which is focused on dyslexia education, HB 150, a Golden Alert System for those with impairments, HB 180 which creates a Green Alert for Veterans at risk, HB 226 which establishes a farmer-focused mental health program, HB 228 which increases the homestead exemption for disabled veterans and SB 20 which would establish treatment and restraint rules for children with developmental disabilities.

The caucus is formed of 18 members, 14 from the House and 4 from the Senate evenly divided among parties. 

They are: 

Representative Rocky Adkins, Representative Tina Bojanowski, Representative Charles Booker, Representative Bam Carney, Representative Deanna Frazier, Representative Kathy Hinkle, Representative Savannah Maddox, Representative Michael Meredith, Representative Melinda Gibbons Prunty, Representative Rick Rand, Representative Nancy Tate,  Representative Lisa Willner, Senator Julie Raque Adams, Senator Jimmy Higdon, Senator Morgan McGarvey, Senator Johnny Ray Turner.