Hemp bill's next stop: House Ag Committee; Eastern Kentuckians remain skeptical

02/15/2013 04:48 PM

The bill to regulate industrial hemp if the federal government allows it to be grown in Kentucky will now land in the lap of the Democratic House Agriculture Committee chairman who has block past hemp-related measures.

Senate Bill 50, passed the full Senate chamber on Thursday with a 31-6 vote. Five out of those six ‘no’ votes came from Eastern Kentucky senators in the congressional district held by Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, who created UNITE – an anti-drug program that covers his district.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, confirmed to reporters in Frankfort that the bill, which will create a regulatory framework if the federal government allows the product to be grown, will be sent to the House Agriculture Committee.

Stumbo said panel’s chairman, Rep. Tom Mckee, D-Cynthiana, agreed with Stumbo that the bill should contain provisions calling for an economic impact study. The University of Kentucky already has been tasked by the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission with doing such a study, which is due this summer.

“I think he’ll have a hearing on it. I think he agrees it ought to be studied and looked at,” Stumbo said.

When asked by Pure Politics if the Eastern Kentucky delegation would be against hemp Stumbo said he couldn’t speak for all of them, but that he would be against the crop unless the economic viability could be proven and law enforcement concerns could be eased.

Watch the full interview with Stumbo on hemp here:

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, who is also from Eastern Kentucky, chose not vote on the hemp bill Thursday. He said he had an conflict between the two sides mainly because of state and federal level concerns.

“Not having a strong opinion one way or another. I found it kind of appropriate for me to stay out of the fray,” Stivers said. Stivers is a close ally of Rogers, who opposes industrial hemp, but is married to Regina Crawford, a field representative for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who announced his support of hemp last month. .

When asked if Stivers had been in contact with Hal Rogers on the issue he said he had not talked to him about this in the last 30-days.


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