Legislative Update | February 2013
Updated: Nov 1, 2018
Agribusiness Industry Network members hit the road for their February meeting, visiting Frankfort Feb. 12 to get a first-hand look at this year's Kentucky General Assembly session.
The AIN group sat in on a committee meeting, heard from a key state senator, joined Cooperative Extension agents for lunch, and endorsed two legislative proposals deemed important to farmers and agribusiness.
First stop on the day's itinerary was a meeting of the state Senate Agriculture Committee, during which committee members voted unanimously to approve legislation improving safety oversight of transient amusement ride operators and companies that rent children's inflatables for private parties.
That bill, SB 103, later passed the full Senate and is now in the House for its consideration.
After the committee adjourned for the day, Chair Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, addressed the AIN group, detailing why he believes two bills he's sponsoring are important to farmers and farm businesses.
One of the measures, SB 50, would legalize the production of industrial hemp on Kentucky farms for the first time since the 1940's. The other, SB 88, would extend the reach of new telephone and Internet technology to areas of Kentucky outside the largest urban areas.
Hornback said both bills carry significant economic potential for agriculture. Hemp production, and associated processing businesses, would bring an important new profit and jobs opportunity for the state. The tech measure would allow more farmers and rural residents to enjoy the fastest Internet service, improving markets and opening up more diverse communication options.
The discussion of the bills continued after Hornback left for his next appointment, with legislative affairs committee chair Dan Ison recommending AIN consider endorsing both pieces of legislation.
The group followed that recommendation, voting to endorse the bills and to communicate with lawmakers asking their support. Later that week, the full Senate passed both bills.
AIN then hand-delivered letters to 28 Louisville-area House members urging their support for both measures. At this writing, the two bills are still pending in the House, where leaders are reportedly poised to develop alternative versions of the legislation for consideration prior to the March 26 deadline for adjournment.
With much of the legislators' attention focused on big ticket issues like pension and tax reform, it's been tough for ag measures to gain traction during this year's short session. But Hornback has succeeded in moving telecom and hemp to the forefront, and is halfway there in terms of legislative approval.
Both of his bills have attracted opposition which has made the lift even harder. And he's met with political pushback from some lawmakers and state officials who may be reluctant to advance a Republican senator's bills.
Despite those obstacles, Hornback is passionate about the issues and seems likely to stay the course, even if his crusade stretches into the 2014 session. The Agribusiness Industry Network, in the person of its members and leaders, is proud to lend its support to those efforts.
Gary Huddleston | AIN Chairman