42 Legislators Recognized as “Champions for Signature Industries” in Kentucky

With passage of several key bills in 2023 to help strengthen Kentucky’s signature equine and bourbon industries, 42 members of the Kentucky General Assembly have been named “Champions for Signature Industries” by a collective group of businesses and associations. The group includes the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky Distillers’ Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Kentucky Equine Education Project, Keeneland Association, and Churchill Downs Incorporated.

Three key bills involving the legalization of sports betting (House Bill 551), the outlawing of “gray machines” (House Bill 594) and the phase out of the property tax on aging bourbon barrels (House Bill 5) marked major victories for signature industries in the state. Recipients of the 2023 “Champions for Signature Industries” award showed strong leadership for the equine and distilling sectors by voting to pass all three bills and advocating for these measures among their respective caucuses.

Below are the legislators selected for this year’s signature industries awards:

  • Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams
  • Senator Karen Berg
  • Senator Cassie Chambers Armstrong
  • Senator Denise Harper Angel
  • Senate Minority Leader Gerald Neal
  • Senate President Robert Stivers
  • Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer
  • Senate Minority Caucus Chair Reggie Thomas
  • Senator Lindsey Tichenor
  • Senator Steve West
  • Senate Minority Whip David Yates
  • Representative Chad Aull
  • Representative Kim Banta
  • Representative Steve Bratcher
  • Representative George Brown
  • Representative Mike Clines
  • Representative Jonathan Dixon
  • Representative Myron Dossett
  • Representative Patrick Flannery
  • Representative Ken Fleming
  • Representative Chris Freeland
  • Representative Al Gentry
  • Representative Samara Heavrin
  • Representative Keturah Herron
  • Representative John Hodgson
  • Representative Kevin Jackson
  • Representative Matt Koch
  • Representative Derek Lewis
  • Representative Michael Meredith
  • House Majority Caucus Chair Suzanne Miles
  • Representative Kim Moser
  • Representative Amy Neighbors
  • House Speaker David Osborne
  • Representative Ruth Ann Palumbo
  • Representative Phillip Pratt
  • Representative Rebecca Raymer
  • House Minority Whip Rachel Roberts
  • Representative Scott Sharp
  • House Minority Caucus Chair Cherlynn Stevenson
  • The Late Representative Lamin Swann
  • Representative Killian Timoney
  • Representative Wade Williams

“Of course, we value our signature industries for the economic impact in our state, but it’s so much more than that. Bourbon and horse racing are part of our identity in Kentucky, and there are countless other businesses that are successful when these two industries are thriving,” said Ashli Watts, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber. “We thank all of the legislators who stood up and voted to make the Commonwealth an even better place for the equine and distilling sectors and for all the other industries and small businesses that feed off of their success.”

“Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most important and enduring legacies, and we are grateful that the General Assembly took action to ensure distillers can continue crafting the world’s finest whiskey right here in Kentucky,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. “Bourbon is a $9 billion industry generating more than 22,500 good-paying, stable jobs with an annual payroll topping $1.2 billion – and paying more than $285 million in local and state taxes each year. With the long-term phase out of the barrel tax, all those jobs, economic growth, tax dollars, and tourism that come with bourbon can be sustained and even soar to new levels. We raise a glass and say cheers to the Bluegrass and its leadership.”

“Kentucky is the Horse Capital of the World, and the Thoroughbred industry is grateful to legislators who voted for Sports Wagering and against unregulated gaming,” said Chauncey Morris, executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. “Our General Assembly has long advocated pro-business policies for both rural and urban Kentucky, including horse racing, which has led to unprecedented growth in jobs, purses, real wages, and infrastructure investment at our farms and racetracks across the Commonwealth.”

“KEEP is proud to join the Kentucky Chamber and other organizations to recognize the legislators who are supportive of the Commonwealth’s signature industries,” said Will Glasscock, executive director of KEEP. “The horse industry alone is responsible for more than 60,000 jobs and an annual $6.5 billion economic impact in Kentucky. The passage of critical legislation during this past legislative session will ensure that our signature industries have a competitive advantage and can continue the growth and success that has served as an economic engine for the entire state.”

Recipients of the signature industries awards will be recognized at a reception in the coming months.

About the Author

Manager of Public Affairs, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

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