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COLUMN: Hemp legislation could mean economic development

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by Paul Hornback | State Senator

In a 30-day “short session” like this year, it’s difficult for both chambers to fully consider all the bills that have been filed.  However, over the last two weeks, the Senate has taken early action on major legislation, giving the House more time to study those bills.
This week the Senate passed important bills addressing economic development, the state’s General Fund debt, health care, and school safety.
First off, Senate Bill 50, designed to boost the economy and support Kentucky farmers, was approved by the Senate and will now move on to the House for consideration. If the bill becomes law, Kentucky farmers would still need to wait for federal legislation to enable hemp production.  However, this legislation puts us in a position to be ready to act should our congressional delegation be successful in their efforts in Washington to get an exemption or legislation that would lift the ban. As a farmer, I have built my life and made my living in rural Kentucky, so I know Kentucky’s climate is ideal for growing hemp. As we look to the future, Kentucky would be positioned to reap the economic benefits of the potential jobs from the production of goods made with hemp, including cars, ropes, clothes and cosmetics.
The Senate Bill 43 legislation to make it easier for physician’s assistants to work in Kentucky, was passed this week.  The measure would change our credentialing standards to more closely match those of surrounding states.  We hope this would encourage more physician’s assistants to stay in the Commonwealth to provide much-needed health service to our citizens.
In an effort to remain competitive in the telecommunications arena, I sponsored Senate Bill 88, the so-called AT&T bill, which was passed by the Senate this week.  This legislation will allow for the modernization of phone service in Kentucky.  Be assured, this measure would enhance Kentucky’s wireless and broadband infrastructure.
Based on recommendations from the Kentucky Center on School Safety, the Senate unanimously passed legislation that would require schools to establish an emergency plan, conduct emergency drills twice per year and share the school diagram with local first-responders.  Additionally, schools must submit an annual report to the Kentucky Department of Education.  This measure is a low-cost common sense approach that may go far toward keeping our children safe.
All these bills now move to the House for consideration.  If you have any questions or comments about the issues above or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181.  You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.