(From right) U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, Congressman John Yarmuth, D-KY, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer, and Congressman Thomas Massie, R-KY, testify in favor of an industrial hemp bill up for consideration in the Kentucky Senate Agriculture Committee.
After testimony from a bevy of high-level supporters, the state Senate agriculture committee unanimously approved Monday a bill that would establish oversight for Kentucky industrial hemp farmer if hemp were made legal federally.
Agriculture Commission James Comer—the leading proponent of industrial hemp in Kentucky—recruited U.S. Reps. Thomas Massie and John Yarmuth to speak in favor of the bill at the committee, as well as U.S. Sen. Rand Paul. But the bill has opposition from many law enforcement agencies, including the Kentucky State Police and Operation UNITE, a federally-funded program.
The crop could create jobs in Kentucky in agriculture and other industries through hemp's use as a strong material, said Comer, a Republican. The legislative approved in committee Monday, Senate Bill 50, is Comer's chief legislative priority.
Kentucky Third District Congressman John Yarmuth says President Obama delivered a very aspirational speech Monday after his second inauguration. He says he was most impressed with Obama saying the most important question to ask is the responsibility of the federal government.
Yarmuth says gun control, climate change and immigration are all issues that must be addressed and he's expecting more details in the State of the Union speech. Yarmuth said there was a lot of excitement in the crowd with history being made and the atmosphere was much more festive than it was four years ago.
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell issued a statement following the President's speech saying Obama's second term "represents a fresh start when it comes to dealing with the great challenges of our day, especially the transcendent challenge of unsustainable federal spending and debt."
Kentucky second district Republican Congressman Brett Guthrie says he thinks preventing other tragedies like the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut can best be accomplished by focusing on mental health issues. The Bowling Green Republican favors that approach instead of what he calls "infringing on the Constitutional rights of law abiding citizens."
Guthrie's House Committee on Education and the Workforce will be looking into school safety and he says he plans to get input from Kentucky education officials.
Third District Congressman John Yarmuth, on the other hand, says he fully supports all of President Obama's proposals to end gun violence. The only Democrat in Kentucky's Congressional delegation is co-sponsoring a bill to ban high capacity gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition.