GOP's James Comer says equine industry needs expanded gambling

10/05/2011 06:16 PM

James Comer, the Republican candidate for agriculture commissioner, said he would support a constitutional amendment allowing casino gambling if it specifically helped Kentucky’s horse race tracks.

“We need to do what we can to help the equine industry,” Comer said at the 6:50 mark of the interview. “I’m a member of the General Assembly. I’ve voted against expanded gaming. That’s on my voting record. We’ve since seen that there’s been a decline in the equine industry.”

Comer, a state representative and farmer from Monroe County, is running against Democratic candidate Bob Farmer.

Comer also said he doesn’t support a statewide smoking ban but does want the state to legalize growing hemp crops — with law enforcement oversight.

Comerno longer grows tobacco. He talked on Pure Politics about helping farmers transition to other crops but said exports of cigarettes to countries such as Egypt and China will continue the demand for Kentucky-grown tobacco. (0:15- 1:15)

“There will always be tobacco in Kentucky, it’s just going to be grown by fewer and fewer farmers,” Comer said.

Comer disagrees with implementing a statewide smoking ban that is supported by some officials, including Republican candidate for governor and state Senate president David Williams.

“I’m just for smaller government. I don’t think the government should come in and be a nanny state,” Comer said at the 1:50 mark of the interview.

Other issues discussed included:

  • Making legal the growing of industrial hemp (2:50-4:30)
  • Tax incentives for the equine industry (4:30)
  • Whether it was a mistake for the legislature to divert Agriculture Development Funds to water and sewer projects (8:15)

On the gambling issue, Comer’s fellow Republican state representative, Mike Nemes of Louisville, has proposed a constitutional amendment to allow expanded gambling, as well as a local vote on whether communities would accept casino gaming in their areas.

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