James Comer

Environment
1:30 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

LG&E, Charah Partner to Create New Agriculture Pellet from Coal Byproduct

A partnership between LG&E and KU and a Kentucky company could help both the energy and agriculture sectors, Kentucky leaders announced Monday.

Kentucky company Charah  is opening up a facility in Louisville that will take leftover gypsum from the Mill Creek Power Station and turn it into a sulfur product —such as fertilizers—for Kentucky farmers.

Kentucky agriculture is in need of sulfur products to help grow strong crops, state agriculture leaders said. The new venture will also help reduce a byproduct from coal-fired power plants.

Many of Kentucky's top leaders turned out for the announcement, including U.S. Senator Rand Paul, who says the new product is great for multiple needs, including the economy and the environment.

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Agriculture
1:27 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Ag Commissioner James Comer: Indictment of Richie Farmer Won't Affect Department

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer doesn't expect the indictment of his predecessor, Richie Farmer, to damage the department. Comer says he feels sorry for Farmer's family because of the indictment, but it won't be a distraction for the department.

Comer and his staff have cooperated with multiple investigations into Farmer, and his goal is to distance the office from the officeholder.

"I hope the confidence has been restored. I work hard every day, I go to events every day to promote agriculture. We brought in all new management, we're efficient, we're transparent," said Comer, a Monroe County native.

Farmer has been indicted on five counts related to allegations he misused his office to obtain gifts and misappropriated state funds during his two terms as commissioner. He could face up to ten years in prison and a quarter million dollar fine.

Agriculture
6:41 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Comer to Lead Pro-Hemp Delegation to Washington

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer (left) is a leading advocate for industrial hemp.
Credit Kentucky Department of Agriculture

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer will lead a Kentucky delegation to Washington to ask for an exemption to allow farmers in his state to grow industrial hemp.

That announcement comes after the Kentucky Legislature passed a bill that lays the groundwork for licensing hemp growers if the federal government ever lifts a ban on the crop.

Hemp thrived in Kentucky generations ago but was banned after the federal government classified it as a controlled substance.

Comer has said hemp could be an economic boon for Kentucky. Besides creating another crop for the state's farmers, Comer said hemp could lead to manufacturing jobs that produce products ranging from paper to cosmetics.

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Agriculture
9:18 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Adkins: Hemp Negotiations Have Broken Down in Last Days of Session

Negotiations have broken down on a bill that would allow Kentucky to quickly license hemp growers if the federal government ever lifts a ban on the crop, according to a state legislative leader.

House Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Catlettsburg, had voiced optimism early Monday that a deal could be struck between House and Senate negotiators before the Legislature adjourns on Tuesday. However, by Monday night, he said he was disappointed by the lack of progress.

The hemp legislation has been hotly debated this year in Frankfort and was languishing in the House before Adkins stepped in with a proposal that seemed to revive it.

Hemp thrived as a crop in Kentucky generations ago but has been banned for decades by the federal government after it was classified as a controlled substance.

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Agriculture
12:28 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Kentucky Hemp Supporters Blast Amendment Calling for Further Study

Kentucky's industrial hemp supporters lashed out Thursday against a last-minute amendment to the hemp bill that's been under consideration this year in the General Assembly.

State Rep. Rocky Adkins, a Sandy Hook Democrat and the majority floor leader, has proposed an amendment turning the Senate-approve hemp bill into a five year study. It also gives the licensing responsibilities to Kentucky State Police, which argues that legalized hemp would harm law enforcement efforts to target hemp's cousin, marijuana.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is the leading proponent of the hemp bill, which establishes a regulatory framework in Kentucky for hemp farming should the federal government ease its restrictions on the plant.

"I think that was the straw that broke the camel's back with the public that are keeping up with this issue, so I think they've heard from the people of Kentucky: don't study this issue," Comer said. "Let's set up the regulatory framework, don't get in the way of creating jobs and helping our farmers."

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Agriculture
8:51 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Comer: Amendment to Hemp Bill an Effort to Kill Measure

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner is speaking out against efforts to amend his number one legislative priority—a much talked-about industrial hemp measure. James Comer says an amendment allowing five years of hemp growing demonstration projects in the state is just an effort to kill the bill.

The measure has enjoyed a good deal of bipartisan support in Frankfort, and passed the full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee. But the bill is now hanging by a thread after House Speaker Greg Stumbo refused to allow the bill an up-or-down vote. And the Courier-Journal reports Comer isn’t pleased with an amendment offered this week that would have the Kentucky State Police—instead of the Agriculture Department—issue licenses for hemp-growing demonstration projects.

Still, the bill’s sponsor—Senator Paul Hornback of Shelbyville—says he plans to meet with House leaders next week to allow some kind of action on the measure when lawmakers return for the final two days of the session on March 25th and 26th.

Politics
10:12 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Kentucky House Speaker Declares Hemp Bill Dead for the Session

House Speaker Greg Stumbo announced Monday that hemp legislation won't be going any further this legislative session. 

The Courier-Journal reports the bill has been assigned to the Rules Committee. Stumbo told the newspaper "the calendar won't allow us to consider any bills that are in the Rules Committee."

Monday is the 26th day of the 30 day session. Monday and Tuesday are devoted to bills that have cleared both chambers, while the final two days of the session are reserved for overriding any gubernatorial vetoes.

Agriculture
8:58 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Kentucky House Committee Passes Hemp Bill, but Floor Vote Uncertain

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, and several Kentucky Congressmen have endorsed a hemp bill being heard in Frankfort.

In its second try, the Kentucky House agriculture committee approved a bill Wednesday creating a regulatory framework for growing hemp in Kentucky, if the federal government were to legalize the crop.

The hemp bill—championed by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer—got only one "no" vote in the House agriculture committee.

Last week, an ag committee meeting abruptly ended after a tense exchange among lawmakers on the hemp issue.

Several House lawmakers said they voted for the bill to support farmers and hopefully create more jobs in the Bluegrass State.

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Agriculture
4:21 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Comer: Industrial Hemp Bill to Get Committee Hearing Wednesday

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer
Credit Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said Monday that an industrial hemp bill will get a hearing this week in the House Agriculture Committee.

Comer is a major supporter of industrial hemp, and has enlisted the backing of a bipartisan group of federal and state lawmakers. Comer met Monday with Rep. Tom McKee, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and secured from McKee a promise that Senate Bill 50 will get a committee vote Wednesday.

McKee effectively blocked the bill from progressing last week after he tried to get language added to the measure that would have mandated a study of hemp by University of Kentucky researchers. The move by McKee led to some hard feelings between him and hemp backers, but Comer says his meeting with McKee was a productive one, and that things appear to be smoothed over.

Speaking to WKU Public Radio Monday, Comer said he liked the bill's chances to pass the House Agriculture Committee Wednesday. And he says he's not worried about the face that House Speaker Greg Stumbo opposes the measure.

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Politics
1:55 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Hemp Legislation Stalls in Kentucky House

The Kentucky House Agriculture Committee chairman blocked a vote on the hemp bill on Wednesday morning after a tense exchange with a Republican supporter of the legislation.

The hemp bill would create a regulatory framework in Kentucky, should the federal government legalize it.

Rep. Tom McKee, the ag committee chairman and a Cynthiana Democrat, wanted to amend the bill to turn it into a study, which the bill's supporters oppose.

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