Governor asks feds to issue wavier for lower-cost gas, issues baby formula state of emergency
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 9, 2022) – Following his actions to freeze vehicle property taxes for two years and halt a statutorily scheduled increase in the state’s per-gallon gas tax, today, Gov. Andy Beshear took further action aimed at helping Kentuckians save at the pump as well as combating baby formula price gouging.
“My administration is doing everything we can to try to help keep more money in the pockets of our hard-working Kentucky families,” Gov. Beshear said. “Today’s actions are just two more ways we can help provide our families some relief in these challenging times.”
Reformulated Gas Waiver Request
First, in a letter sent to top administrators at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gov. Beshear requested that the administration grant a waiver and remove the requirement that more costly, “reformulated” fuel be sold in many urban areas – including the Louisville metropolitan area. On top of the price spike, the supply of reformulated gasoline that Kentucky relies on has faced the added pressure of a global supply crunch.
If approved, the waiver would stay in effect for up to 20 days, allowing conventional, more affordable gasoline to be sold in Jefferson County, as well as portions of Bullitt and Oldham counties.
While reformulated gas helps cut down on pollution, during these unprecedented times, the reformulated blend is adding an additional cost – as much as 20 or 30 cents or more per gallon – to Kentucky families who are already paying too much, the Governor said.
“The people who live and work in the Louisville area do not deserve to shoulder this extra burden during what is already a trying time when it comes to filling up,” Gov. Beshear said.
Baby Formula State of Emergency
Second, Gov. Beshear issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency over the baby formula shortage that has impacted the nation and the commonwealth. The Governor’s order activates state price-gouging laws, which aim to protect families seeking to purchase formula from the predatory pricing that can occur when supplies are limited due to high demand.
The current baby formula shortage is mainly attributed to the lack of supply after a major production plant was shut down earlier this year when the FDA began investigating bacterial infections in four babies who were fed the formula.
“By implementing our price gouging laws, we can make sure that families are not being charged more than they should to obtain a critical supply of formula to feed their baby,” Gov. Beshear said. “I urge families to immediately report any instance of price gouging to the Office of the Attorney General.”
“The infant formula shortage has caused worry and frustration for Kentucky’s families as they have sought to provide nutrition to our most precious citizens,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department for Public Health. “We encourage families to reach out to all available resources in their community, including local health departments, pediatricians, food pantries, community action councils and other supporting agencies to meet the nutritional needs of their infants and to ensure they thrive. We also encourage all eligible families to enroll in WIC or SNAP to help during this shortage.”
Kentuckians should click here to report baby formula price gouging to the Office of the Attorney General. The Governor said, at this time, the attorney general has not reported any claims of price gouging or requested that the price gouging laws be activated, but other states have reported such claims and are taking steps to address them. Under current law, the state of emergency and price gouging laws can last for 30-days; however, local county and city officials can request an extension.
These are just the latest actions taken by the Governor to help Kentuckians. Last week, the Governor filed an emergency regulation to freeze the state gas tax and to prevent a 2-cents-per-gallon increase that would have taken effect July 1. The effort is expected to save Kentuckians $35.4 million. To learn more, see the full release.
In February, Gov. Beshear signed an executive order that stopped an increase in vehicle property taxes that resulted from soaring used car values. That order is in effect for two years, and Kentuckians are expected to see $340 million in savings from the reduction. To learn more, see the full release.
The Governor, working with Representative Angie Hatton of Whitesburg, previously supported legislation to temporarily cut the state sales tax from 6% to 5%, from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023. The measure was not adopted by lawmakers during the 2022 Regular Session. Under the Governor’s proposal, Kentuckians would have seen $873 million in relief directly related to sales tax savings.
Last week, Gov. Beshear outlined five assistance programs Kentuckians should research to see if they could financially benefit their families. They include:
- The Team Kentucky Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund can assist renters with up to 15 months of past due and future utility bills. Renters and landlords can view a complete list of requirements and apply for rental assistance through stopmyeviction.org or teamkyhherf.ky.gov for up to 12 months of past-due rent and utility bills and three months of future payments. Lexington area residents can apply for rental assistance through the Fayette County program at covid19renterhelp.org.
- The Homeowner Assistance Fund is another important resource for Kentucky households. This program was created to help homeowners impacted by COVID-19 avoid foreclosure or loss of utility services, very similar to the eviction relief fund for renters. Qualified homeowners can visit teamkyhaf.ky.gov to apply for up to $35,000 in assistance to help with delinquent mortgage payments, property taxes, homeowners and/or flood insurance, homeowners association fees and utility costs. If approved, the funds will be paid as a grant directly to mortgage servicers, utility companies, county property tax administrators, insurance agencies or homeowners associations.
- In December 2021, the FCC launched the Affordable Connectivity Program. This is a long-term, $14 billion program to ensure our people can afford the internet needed for work, school, health care and more. Qualifying households can receive a monthly benefit up to $30 per household. For more information or to apply, visit fcc.gov/acp.
- Another important resource for families with children is the Kentucky Child Care Assistance Program. This program helps eligible families pay for child care. You can access more information on this program through kynect. It is easy to apply and will be an important resource for families during the summer months.
- Finally, local Community Action Agencies across the state offer a wide range of resources, including food security, transportation, home energy, senior support and more. Visit capky.org for a location near you or to learn more.