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The Kentucky State Capitol on Oct. 26, 2021. (Photo courtesy of LEX 18) 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky House Democratic Caucus has scheduled public hearings in Frankfort in December to give people an opportunity to weigh in on who should receive bonus pay from the state. 

According to a news release, it's an effort to reward frontline and essential support workers who have been on the front lines during the COVID pandemic. The Essential Workers Work Group, which is made up of four caucus members and chaired by state Rep. Buddy Wheatley of Covington, is heading up the effort. 

The work group will host public hearings starting at 1:30 p.m. on two days: Dec. 6 and Dec. 15. The hearings will take place in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Representatives from worker organizations and state officials are invited to attend. Written testimony will also be accepted. The meetings are open to the public, and will be streamed on the caucus' Facebook page.

"We want to hear from Kentucky's frontline workers and those in essential support who have shown incredible courage and love for their fellow Kentuckians," Kentucky House Democratic Caucus Leader Joni Jenkins said in a written statement. "These heroes battled the virus up close, kept essential services going, provided the healthcare so desperately needed, and stayed working behind the scenes to ensure the commonwealth carried on throughout the pandemic."

Rep. Wheatley says the bonus pay -- potentially as much as $400 million in federal funding -- is included in the upcoming two-year budget.

Those appearing before the work group, as well as those submitting written testimony, will be asked to cover the following areas:

1.) How they or their organization represents either frontline workers -- those who have had to interact closely with COVID-infected individuals -- or essential support workers, whose job duties provided critical services that Kentuckians especially needed during the pandemic.

2.) What direct impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their profession, and how bonuses could alleviate that negative impact.

3.) Other factors that might inform the General Assembly relating to the experiences of frontline and essential support workers.

If you're interested in testifying in person or submitting written testimony, contact Shellee Hayden in the Kentucky House Democratic Caucus via email at Shellee.Hayden@lrc.ky.gov. Those requesting to speak are encouraged to contact the office soon. Written comments will be accepted through the end of December.

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