Future of industrial hemp remains in question

Senate Bill 50 (Hornback), which creates a structure for the regulation and production of industrial hemp, if and when the federal government allows it to be grown, passed the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee on Tuesday morning. Rep. Tommy Turner, of Somerset was the only no vote in committee.   Before hearing SB 50, Chairman McKee addressed the Committee and stated that despite reports regarding the hearing on the bill last week, he did not abruptly end the meeting, nor was it his intent to block a vote on this important issue.

After the vote, Cynthiana farmer, Brian Furnish, a member of the Hemp Commission, spoke to the committee to encourage their support of allowing a hearing of SB 50 on the House floor.  With only six legislative days left in the 2013 session, a vote on the House floor is the last step for the bill before heading to the Governor’s desk for signature into law. This is looking unlikely to happen as House Speaker Greg Stumbo said that since SB 50 would create new fees to pay for the regulation and testing of industrial hemp, it was a revenue bill that needed to originate in the House. Because of this, he said it would not get a vote on the House floor.

Legislation has been introduced in Congress by Rep. Thomas Massie, Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Mitch McConnell. The Chamber supports Senate Bill 50 to position Kentucky as a leader in the production and commercialization of industrial hemp.

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