House committee backs plan for coal-funded scholarships in 34 counties

lblackford@herald-leader.comFebruary 14, 2013 

A bulldozer moved coal at a processing tower at an Arch Minerals facility in Knott County on Wednesday. The company closed the underground mine at the site, but still uses a coal-processing facility and a tipple to load rail cars.

The House Education Committee unanimously passed a bill Thursday that would use coal-severance dollars to help students in 34 coal-producing counties finish their four-year college degrees.

House Bill 210 grew out of a compromise last year over whether to make the University of Pikeville a public university. A similar bill failed, but Gov. Steve Beshear issued an executive order allowing $4.3 million in coal severance tax dollars to be used for students in nine Eastern Kentucky counties. House Bill 210 would expand the program to all coal-producing counties, including those in Western Kentucky.

The scholarships help juniors and seniors who attend schools in those counties pay for school, especially those who transfer from community college. The measure now moves to the full House.

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