FRANKFORT — A trio of Eastern Kentucky legislators testified before the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Thursday morning to seek passage of House Bill 483, an effort to support AK Steel’s ongoing plan to remain competitive and retain good paying jobs in the region.
Rep. Tanya Pullin, (D-South Shore, is House Bill 483’s primary sponsor with Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Morehead, and Rep. Kevin Sinnette, D-Ashland, signing on as co-sponsors.
A 2004 Revitalization Agreement forged through the Kentucky Industrial Revitalization Act between AK Steel and the Cabinet for Economic Development enabled the plant to modernize Ashland Works steel mill’s operations through incentives.
AK Steel upgraded equipment to produce automotive grade carbon steel providing two million tons of high quality steel to Toyota, Ford and General Motors.
The agreement expires in July of this year. House Bill 483 would allow AK Steel to extend the agreement for 24 months after the expiration date to reline the Blast Furnace, add environmental controls and undertake supplemental projects.
Pullin stressed the importance of reinvesting in established companies. “Kentucky must seek all opportunities for economic development and jobs especially for existing companies like AK Steel which is committed to supporting our workforce and region.”
The Blast Furnace at Ashland Works annually consumes more than 100,000 tons of Kentucky coal and almost 100,000 tons of Kentucky high-calcium limestone. The internal lining of the furnace is in need of a full reline.
“House Bill 483 would allow AK Steel to consider that investment along with other upgrades that will improve the plant’s operations and sustainability,” said Pullin.
“AK Steel is not only a critical economic engine for northeastern Kentucky, but its product is vital to the success of major manufacturers throughout the commonwealth,” said Adkins. “Extending the agreement secures almost 1,000 jobs as well as the positive economic impact those jobs have upon our local economy.”
“I am proud of AK Steel and their vision for the future,” said Sinnette. “Even in a slow-recovering economy, AK Steel keeps improving and upgrading its facility so our people stay employed. House Bill 483 ensures that the company’s forward motion continues.”
House Bill 483 passed the House A & R Committee and now heads to the House floor for consideration.