McKee will finish committee hearing on hemp, but a vote is uncertain -- so is McKee's opposition

02/28/2013 02:26 PM

After fireworks in the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday that put hemp legislation in limbo, the bill’s sponsor says he has been promised the hearing on the bill will continue.

Getting a vote on the bill, however, remains up in the air, said Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, the sponsor of Senate Bill 50. It creates a framework for regulating the industrial hemp industry.

Hornback told reporters in a press conference Thursday that he has been promised a full hearing on Senate Bill 50 by House leadership.

“I am hopeful that will come to fruition and we will get a hearing on the bill,” Hornback said.

However Hornback told reporters that he had not been promised an up or down vote on the bill. Watch interaction with reporters below:

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Wednesday he “doesn’t have a dog in the fight.” But he hasn’t come out in support of the bill, which is the product of Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission. Stumbo appointed four members to the commission, all of whom have backed the legislation.

On Thursday, Stumbo told reporters that he too was unaware of the promise of a hearing on SB50.

House Agriculture Chairman Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, told reporters that the meeting between Hornback and House leadership was news to him too. But McKee said that he will continue the hearing would likely be next week.

A Cynthiana farmer who has leaned on McKee on the hemp issue told reporters at a press conference he was going to give the chairman “one last chance.”

Brian Furnish, who is a farmer in McKee’s district and a member of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, said he has heard from about 60 farmers in his community who are interested in the hemp industry.

And Furnish issued an ultimatum to McKee to hold a full vote on the bill.

“I can’t make a commitment today that I’m running, but I can tell you that if this continues that someone good will be running to seek election in my district,” he said.


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