TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

State News

March 5, 2013

Hemp bill on table again; redistricting in ‘final phase’

CORBIN — By RONNIE ELLIS

CNHI News Service

FRANKFORT Watching the 2013 General Assembly is a bit like watching Kentucky’s weather; if you don’t like what you hear one day, just stick around for what they say the next.

When lawmakers left town Friday, a bill sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, to regulate hemp cultivation if the federal government allows it and pushed by Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer appeared dead in the Democratic-controlled House.

Meanwhile, Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, told reporters he expected to share a House redistricting plan with the Democratic House caucus Monday.

Check both of those.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, said Monday afternoon that after Comer visited McKee’s home county of Harrison County earlier that morning that the House committee will now take up Hornback’s bill Wednesday and McKee intends to vote for it.

“That’s correct,” McKee said. “I’m going to vote for it. I don’t know how anyone else will vote.”

The last time the bill was before McKee’s committee, McKee intended to offer a substitute version but the committee appeared prepared to vote for the original bill. So McKee first recessed, then later adjourned the committee without a vote on either.

That would appear to mean the bill will pass out of McKee’s committee, but that doesn’t mean it will get a vote on the floor of the House.

Stumbo said Monday afternoon he still opposes the bill.

“I’m not for the bill,” Stumbo said. “I don’t think we need it.”

Comer has said he thinks the bill would get upwards of 60 or 70 votes if it receives a vote in the 100-member House. But even if it passes out of McKee’s committee, the bill could still be bottled up in the Rules Committer by House leadership if it chose.

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