Posts Tagged ‘Ky.’

Political Heavyweights Add Muscle to Hemp Bill

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Kentucky’s Agriculture commissioner recruits some Kentucky ambassadors from the Beltway to muscle through a bill positioning Kentucky for industrial hemp production if the federal government allows.

Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Senate Ag Committee chairman Paul Hornback, calls for the state Ag department to establish conditions and procedures for licensing industrial hemp growers who would have to plant a minimum of 10 acres.

Agriculture Commissioner Comer’s office would assume all of the responsibilities of Senate Bill 50 from certification that hemp seed is below the appropriate THC level, administering background checks and licensing growers, providing GPS mapping of industrial hemp production to law enforcement and inspecting the crops and conducting tests when necessary.

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer voiced his opposition to the measure out of fear law enforcement would be hard pressed to distinguish between marijuana and hemp in outdoor fields except through laboratory testing.

An unlikely trio of Kentucky’s federal delegation banded together in favor of Senate Bill 50 and made their appeal before the Ag panel: Republican Thomas Massie of the 4th Congressional District; John Yarmuth of the 3rd CD and Kentucky’s junior US Senator Rand Paul.

Paul donned his dress shirt made of hemp made in Canada while  pitching the bill before the Senate Ag panel. He said Kentucky is sending profits to our neighbors up north, which he decried as nonsense. Senator Paul has a plan in Congress to legalize industrial hemp production in this country, or seek a waiver for Kentucky.

Kentucky’s third district Congressman John Yarmuth joked about why an urban federal lawmaker from Louisville is interested in industrial hemp legislation. Yarmuth says he’s interested in hemp because it can mean new jobs.

Thomas Massie, Kentucky’s newest Congressman from the fourth district in Northern Kentucky, spoke in favor of Senate Bill 50 from three different perspectives: as a legislator, a farmer, and an entrepreneur. He and Yarmuth have filed a bill in Congress that would exempt hemp with less than .3 percent of THC concentration from marijuana laws. In economic terms,
Massie explained where Kentucky stands in the hemp movement.

Paul Hornback’s Senate Bill 50 cleared the Senate Ag committee unanimously and now heads to the Senate. In a press conference after the vote, Senate Majority Caucus Chair Dan Seum said he hadn’t gauged Republican’s reception to the bill yet and didn’t know if it would be called for a floor vote this week.

Watch KET’s  “Legislative Update” each weeknight during the session for a report of the day’s Capitol activities at 11pm ET on KET and follow @ReneeKET throughout the day on Twitter for updates.

Civic Engagement Project Plugs Students into Election Convo

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Voters fatigued from menacing political ads, anxious to see the 2012 election season make its descent into history, have a few more days to endure the political hijacking of their television screens. They’ve reached maximum density in tolerating the incessant punditry, pontifications, polls, and unpleasantries.

What I hear many voters say as I moderate community conversations across the state is that they hunger for civility and substance in political discourse. An example of that high-level, interactive conversation happened last week just hours before the vice presidential debate at Centre College, a few campus buildings away from where Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan went toe to toe.

The Global Center for Connected Campuses (GC3) — in partnership with Centre College, Connected Nation and 10/20 Digital — hosted more than 3,000 students from 48 states and 14 countries in a live town hall discussion. While the final participation tally in the digital town hall could equal more, those preliminary numbers demonstrate the eagerness of young people to find ways to engage in the political process even if they aren’t old enough to punch a voting ballot.

The questions posed via Twitter and video messaging were as sophisticated as the bright panelists who answered them. From social media, to foreign policy, to higher education and the environment, representatives from the Centre College Democrats and Republicans fielded questions from their younger peers.

As moderator, I was pleased that Kentucky’s top election officers of the past and present joined the conversation to weight the discussion with their experiences as elected officials. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes spent the first hour of the two-hour event on stage, followed by her predecessor Trey Grayson, who now heads Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Grayson chimed in using Skype.

The technical ingenuity of the event was impressive, and so was the conversation. The purpose of the project was to showcase educational technology, share the debate experience with students, and give teachers a framework for teaching civic engagement and election topics in the classroom. It succeeded on all those levels, all while an in-theatre audience of youngsters looked on and offered some questions of their own. It was my honor to moderate the discussion that you can see here. Or, visit the event website.


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