— The Senate is taking up a bill Thursday to address a surge in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a birth defect that affects infants’ brains and sometimes results in permanent brain damage.
The Senate is also considering a bill to provide funds for Zika vaccines for residents of the state.
Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Lexington, is sponsoring a bill that would establish a Zika virus research and development program for Kentucky.
The program would be funded with federal funds and Kentucky state money.
The state is currently trying to find a vaccine candidate for the virus.
DeWine’s bill would also provide funding to research the Zika pandemic and establish a program for research into the development of Zika vaccines.
It would also establish an office of the secretary of state and appoint a senior official to lead the effort.
A companion bill would establish an emergency fund to help Kentucky residents in need.
The two bills are set to be considered by the Senate on Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bonier, R, Kentucky, told reporters on Thursday that the Zika bills will be considered as the Senate considers its next budget.
Senators have also been debating a Zika-related health bill.
Seniors and others affected by the virus are now being asked to sign a voluntary pledge that they will not contract the virus, the Senate Health Committee said Thursday.
A federal bill to create a Zika vaccine has been introduced by Sen. Rand Paul, R.
Paul said the bill is needed to help people in need in Kentucky and around the country.
Paul also said that there are now 2,400 cases of Zika in Kentucky, up from 1,300 cases in the previous two weeks.