Industrial hemp advocate says bill has the votes in the Ky. Senate and Stumbo will be key

01/24/2013 09:14 AM

A proposal to set up a framework for industrial hemp to be grown in Kentucky has more than the votes it needs to pass the Senate but faces an uncertain future in the Kentucky House, one advocate said.

James Hidgon, a member of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, said Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a former attorney general, will be the key to whether law enforcement agencies — which have expressed reservations about the proposal — tank the bill.

“Stumbo could make or break it — it would appear,” said Higdon, the son of Republican Sen. Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon and author of the book “Cornbread Mafia.”

“Obviously, there’s opposition from the law enforcement community — from the state police — and they seem to be putting a lot of pressure on leadership in both chambers regarding committee placement. So it remains to be seen what committees these bills end up in,” Higdon said (1:30).

For instance, Hornback chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, and thus, would support sending the legislation to the Senate floor. But the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by freshman Republican Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a former prosecutor from Hopkinsville, might be more likely to side with law enforcement.

Higdon also talked about the regulations in H.B. 33 and S.B. 50. (2:00-3:00).

“There’s really not been any movement on their side about being comfortable with the controls,” Higdon said.

And Higdon reacted to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s comments that the federal government could give Kentucky a waiver.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce announced their support for industrial hemp legislation recently, and the Agriculture Commissioner’s Office staff said they expect more organizations to endorse the effort.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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