Gov. Steve Beshear has until Saturday to sign or veto a bill that would open the door to industrial hemp farming in Kentucky. So far, he hasn't said what he'll do.
The General Assembly passed the bill last Tuesday in the final minutes of this year's legislative session, giving the governor 10 days excluding Sundays to veto it, according to the Legislative Research Commission.
The bill would allow Kentucky farmers to grow hemp if the federal government lifts its decades-long ban on the plant. Hemp can be used to make products ranging from paper to cosmetics.
It thrived as a crop in Kentucky for generations before it was classified as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Although hemp is similar to marijuana, it has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
Kentucy Governor Steve Beshear has announced he is vetoing a controversial religious freedom bill. Civil rights groups had urged a veto, saying the measure would essentially legalize certain forms of discrimination against gays and lesbians by groups and individuals who could claim they were doing so because of their religious beliefs.
Some church groups from across the state have been urging Beshear to sign the bill, saying it would give stronger legal standing to people who claim their religious rights have been violated.
“Religious freedom is a cornerstone of this great nation, and a right enshrined in both the United States Constitution and the Kentucky Constitution,” Gov. Beshear said in a statement released by his office. “I value and cherish our rights to religious freedom and I appreciate the good intentions of House Bill 279 and the members of the General Assembly who supported this bill to protect our constitutional rights to practice our religion."
Gov. Steve Beshear is being pressured from both sides of a controversial bill that would strengthen legal protections for religious freedom in Kentucky.
Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, are urging Beshear to veto the measure. They say the law could allow someone claiming religious freedom to discriminate against gays and lesbians, undermining civil rights protections in cities such as Lexington.
Religious groups, including the Kentucky Baptist Convention, are asking the governor to sign the bill. They say it gives higher legal standing to someone who claims the government infringed on religion. The courts would still rule on the matter.
The General Assembly passed the bill on Friday. Beshear said Tuesday he hasn't looked at it yet.
Gov. Steve Beshear will lead an international business trade mission to Canada this summer. The trip will be the first-ever trade mission of the Kentucky Export Initiative, and will be aimed at boosting commerce between the Bluegrass State and America’s northern neighbor.
Canada already serves as Kentucky’s number one export destination, with the commonwealth exporting $7.3 billion in products and services there in 2012. That’s more than four times the total goods and services exported to Kentucky’s number two trading partner, Mexico.
The Kentucky trade mission will take place June 4-7 in Toronto.
Supporters of a statewide smoking ban brought high-profile help from the world of sports while rallying Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda for their cause.
Urging Kentucky lawmakers to pass a statewide smoking ban, Gov. Steve Beshear and former University of Kentucky basketball player Derek Anderson spoke in favor of House Bill 190 at the rally. Currently more than 20 Kentucky communities have smoke-free laws, spanning across the state. And recent polls said that most Kentuckians support a ban.
Based on those facts, state Rep. Julie Raque Adam says the bill should be passed with bipartisan support.
"This is not a Republican or Democrat issue," said Raque Adams, a Louisville Republican who is sponsoring a House bill. "It's just one that makes sense for public health and Kentucky's economy."
The 2013 Kentucky General Assembly reconvenes February 5 to take up some major pieces of legislation. Lisa Autry spoke with Governor Steve Beshear about his priorities for the session. The two discussed state pension reform, the prospects of legalizing industrial hemp, Beshear's stance on increasing gambling in the commonwealth, and other topics.
On the subject of casino gambling legislation, Gov. Beshear told WKU Public Radio he isn't optimistic such a bill will pass in this year's General Assembly. The session is only 30 days, leaving little time for the much-discussed issue.
Unlike in the past, however, the Governor says future casino discussions may not focus just on the horse industry. Past legislation called for placing casinos at the state's racetracks, but Beshear says there isn't enough support that idea in the legislature.
He says he's willing to look at having free-standing casinos in the Bluegrass State. Opponents of expanded gaming say the state shouldn't depend on gambling to raise revenue, and some question what they consider overly-optimistic projections of how much money more gaming would really bring to the Bluegrass State.