2020 General Assembly

Andrew Marsh/Conn Center.

Kentucky lawmakers want Congress to redefine the federal definition of hemp.

A state resolution that passed overwhelmingly in the Kentucky House Tuesday asks the federal government to loosen regulations that could require farmers to destroy their hemp crops.

Farmers grew 92 percent of Kentucky’s hemp harvest last year for CBD. It’s a popular compound users claim has medicinal benefits. CBD-rich hemp also has low levels of the intoxicating compound THC, which is found in marijuana.

Hemp must have THC levels below 0.3 percent or else the government can classify it as illegal marijana and require farmers to destroy the crop.


Anti-Pipeline Protest Bill Moves To Kentucky Senate

Feb 11, 2020
Erica Peterson

A bill discouraging protests against pipelines and other “key infrastructure” has passed out of the Kentucky House of Representatives after a receiving an amendment quelling some advocates’ free speech concerns.

Republican Sponsor Rep. Jim Gooch of Providence pre-filed the measure shortly after Louisville Gas & Electric began pursuing eminent domain actions to build a natural gas pipeline in northern Bullitt County.

The House approved an amended version of House Bill 44 on Monday that would make tampering with the operations of a “key infrastructure asset” in ways that are dangerous or harmful a Class D felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.


Sydney Boles

Leaders of Braidy Industries, the controversial aluminum mill planned for northeastern Kentucky, told lawmakers on Tuesday that they still need $500 million before they can break ground.

The update comes shortly after the company fired former CEO and chairman Craig Bouchard, the company’s founder who has claimed the project would revolutionize the aluminum industry and revitalize the region’s economy.

Braidy Industries executives largely refused to answer questions about Bouchard’s ouster or what would happen if the company was unable to raise enough money.

 


Creative Commons

Corporal punishment would be outlawed in the state’s public and private schools under a measure passed in the Kentucky House Friday morning.

Kentucky is one of 19 states where it’s still legal for school staff to inflict pain on students as a form of discipline – usually with a wooden paddle to the behind.

“A child learns what he lives,” Rep. Maria Sorolis (D-Louisville) said on the floor, speaking in support of the ban. “If a child learns with violence, he will learn to fight. We are sophisticated enough now that we can teach and discipline to disciple, rather than to merely punish.”

Baishampayan Ghose/Creative Commons

Gov. Andy Beshear is trying to rally support for a bill that would legalize sports betting in Kentucky as the proposal continues to languish in the Republican-led state House of Representatives.

Supporters say the proposal would raise about $22 million per year in revenue for the state, which has struggled to make enough money to cover budgeted expenses in recent years.

Beshear held a press conference on Thursday as a show of force for the bill, with supporters advocating how the measure could raise funds for services like education, pensions and healthcare.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Kentucky’s regional universities are worried about a spike in the amount they have to put into the state’s pension system and, after more than a decade of cuts, are asking for the legislature to give them more funding.

Regional universities like Eastern Kentucky University, Murray State University and Western Kentucky University currently have to contribute an amount equal to 49 percent of every employees’ salary back to the retirement system.

That amount is about to increase to 93 percent. The universities say that would force them to cut services and raise tuition.


Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Andy Beshear is trying to rally support for a bill that would legalize sports betting in Kentucky as the proposal continues to languish in the Republican-led state House of Representatives.

Supporters say the proposal would raise about $22 million per year in revenue for the state, which has struggled to make enough money to cover budgeted expenses in recent years.

Beshear held a press conference on Thursday as a show of force for the bill, with supporters advocating how the measure could raise funds for services like education, pensions and healthcare.


Thinkstock

A bill that would automatically clear the criminal records of people acquitted of committing a crime unanimously passed out of a legislative committee on Wednesday.

The proposal would make the justice system more fair and that he didn’t realize the process didn’t already exist, Rep. Kevin Bratcher, a Republican from Louisville.

“House Bill 327 corrects something that I certainly did not know was going on,” Bratcher said. “And I bet you most of your constituents don’t know.”

 


Ryland Barton

As Kentucky faces surging pension, prison and Medicaid costs, Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration encouraged Republican budget writers to follow its lead on a new two-year spending plan on Tuesday.

But Republicans have veto-proof majorities in the state House and Senate and won’t have to listen to the Democratic administration if they don’t want to.

Legislators are gathered in Frankfort until mid-April to put together Kentucky’s biennial budget — a difficult task as state economists predict weak revenue growth amid growing demands.

 


J. Tyler Franklin

A Kentucky House committee has given the green light to a bill that would require all school police officers to carry guns, with the goal of preventing school shootings.

The proposal is an update to a school safety bill that passed last year, which required every school to hire a school resource officer, or SRO. This year’s legislation would mandate every SRO carry a gun.

“I know as a parent when I drop my children off at school I want to make sure that they are going into a safe environment,” bill sponsor Sen. Max Wise (R-Campbellsville) told the House committee Tuesday. “If we are going to say these schools are going to be safe, and you’re having sworn law enforcement officers, they’ve got to be able to do their job if a situation were to get to that potential tragedy.”

 


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On Monday in Louisville, a panel of immigration experts will discuss the anti-sanctuary cities bill making its way through the Kentucky legislature.

The bill has already passed out of a state Senate committee and would ban cities, state agencies and public employees from adopting policies that discourage them from cooperating with immigration officials.

University of Louisville Professor Riffat Hassan, an Islamic scholar and one of the event’s organizers, says the bill would create a culture of fear among Kentucky’s immigrant and minority communities.

“The intent doesn’t seem to be positive. It’s not beneficent in its intent. It doesn’t give compassion and understanding to people who have already gone through so much,” Hassan said.

Abbey Oldham

Lawmakers say a bill proposing to narrow the definition of milk will help Kentucky’s struggling dairy industry.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Matt Castlendefines milk as “lacteal secretion” from hooved mammals including cows, horses, goats and reindeer. It bans labeling products as milk that do not meet the new definition. Castlen said the bill will help both the industry and consumers.

 

J. Tyler Franklin

A bill that would require Kentucky cities, agencies and public employees to comply with federal immigration officials has cleared the first step in the legislative process.

The anti-sanctuary cities bill passed out of the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee on Thursday with a 7-2 vote. Lexington Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr and Louisville Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal voted against the measure.

Opponents have decried the measure as an expansion of law enforcement powers to untrained employees, saying it would sew mistrust in the immigrant community.

 


Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Calling it a “work in progress,” Kentucky lawmakers are still considering a bill that would limit a governor’s power to appoint a state transportation secretary.

The bill is sponsored by a Republican leader of the state Senate and would require Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear to pick a transportation secretary out of a list generated by a board comprised of members selected by influential lobbying groups.

The Senate would have final authority to confirm or reject the governor’s pick.

Sen. Jimmy Higdon, a Republican from Lebanon, said the bill would make the Transportation Cabinet transparent and accountable.

Screenshot from KET

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has unveiled his proposal for how the state should spend its money over the next two years, laying out a plan to provide raises to state workers and put more funding towards education by raising about $1.5 billion in new revenue.

Kentucky’s two-year budget is currently about $21 billion.

In his address Tuesday night, Beshear said his budget prioritizes education and would end “fourteen years of painful cuts.”

 


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