House Ag Committee chairman stands up Kentucky;
adjourns without a vote on industrial hemp bill
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
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FRANKFORT, Ky. House Agriculture and Small Business Committee Chairman Tom McKee stood up Kentucky on a jobs bill by officially adjourning the committee after stating he would reconvene the group to take up Senate Bill 50, Sen. Paul Hornbacks industrial hemp legislation supported by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.
McKee took testimony this morning on the bill, but when other members moved for passage, he ruled them out of order and quickly adjourned the meeting. McKee was met with a round of boos from the audience but then stated he would reconvene the meeting for further action on the bill after session. But during a recess in session, he adjourned the committee at his desk.
Im very disappointed in Chairman McKee, Comer said. The testimony today was overwhelmingly in favor of SB 50, and we clearly had the votes to pass this bill. This is a perfect example of everything wrong with Frankfort right now.
This mornings bi-partisan panel in support of SB 50 included Sen. Hornback, Democrat Sen. Robin Webb, Commissioner Comer, and Nutiva hemp foods founder and CEO John Roulac. Roulacs company is the fastest-growing health foods company in the country. Mike Lewis, a small-scale farmer, military veteran, and spokesman for the Homegrown by Heroes program, also testified in support of the bill.
In an interesting twist, members of law enforcement who testified on the bill actually conceded that SB 50 addresses many of the concerns they have raised. Rep. Jonathan Shell from Lancaster stated that if SB 50 failed to pass, no safeguards would be in place if the federal government legalized industrial hemp.
It was clear that the entire room had finally come to a full understanding of the intent of SB 50, which is to position Kentucky with a responsible program that could achieve a waiver from the federal government, Comer added. We were ready to put Kentucky on the forefront for jobs, and Chairman McKee just pulled the rug out from under all of us. This is disrespectful to all the people who put a year of hard work into this bill, including our federal delegation and military veterans who deserve more job opportunities.
Comer said that he will get together with Sen. Hornback and the Republican and Democrat supporters of SB 50 to determine the next step.