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Martha Layne Collins, 1936-, Lexington, KY. Former Kentucky Governor Martha Layne Collins furthered the cause for women when she became the first female governor in the south and Kentucky’s first and still only female governor in state history. She served the Commonwealth as governor from 1983 to 1987. At the time of her election, she was the seventh woman to serve as governor of any state, and the third to win the gubernatorial election as a self-made politician rather than as the wife or widow of a past governor. Because of her help with the development of economic ties with Japan when she negotiated a Kentucky Toyota Plant, she was named Honorary Consul General of Japan in Kentucky. President Ronald Reagan signed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday bill in 1983, and Governor Collins signed the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Holiday Bill in 1986, the first year the federal holiday achieved its official recognition. All 50 states did not recognize the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday until 1993. The former high school teacher is known for improving the educational system: She made kindergarten mandatory for all public school students; she instituted remedial programs for elementary students; she established mandatory testing and internships for teachers; and she provided academic receivership to help underperforming schools. Further, she set aside more funding for poor school districts and $100 million for higher education. She served as a co-chair of the Kentucky Task Force on the Economic Status of Women, and she encourages women to achieve their goals while continuing her role as a leader on education issues in Kentucky.
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