A bill that would end requirements on phone companies to provide landline services in parts of Kentucky where other options are available has cleared the state Senate.
Nicknamed the AT&T bill because of the phone company's support, the legislation was largely opposed by rural lawmakers who argue that the bill would end landline service to their areas without proper alternatives.
But Sen. Paul Hornback, a Republican from Shelbyville, said the goal is to expand broadband and wireless in those rural areas before Kentucky falls behind other states in having those services available.
"It's time we changed our laws to reflect that reality," Hornback said. "Other states are moving forward. The question is, will Kentucky keep up or we'll be left behind again by other states like Indiana and Tennessee."
The state Senate has passed a bill aimed at creating a hemp industry in Kentucky, though the bill still appears to lack the support of key government leaders.
The Senate's 31-6 vote sends to the House a measure establishing oversight for Kentucky industrial hemp farmers if the crop is legalized at the federal level. The Senate vote comes on the heels of a poll stating that most Kentuckians believe legalized hemp would create jobs.
High-profile opponents remain unmoved.
And the hemp bill's fate in the state House isn't so clear.
The poll, conducted by RunSwitch Public Relations and Harper Polling, stated that 65 percent of Kentuckians believe that hemp would create jobs—and that only 16 percent believed that law enforcement concerns about hemp should take priority.
Advocates for more wireless and broadband options in Kentucky will once again push a bill reforming the state's telecommunications laws—specifically, removing language that requires old-school land-line service throughout the state.
Citizens for a Digital Future unveiled the legislation Tuesday, which is sponsored by state Sen. Paul Hornback, a Republican from Shelbyville.
The bill would allow phone companies to be unbounded from state law requiring them to run land line service in all areas of the state. If a comparable voice service was in the area, including wireless options, companies could end their land line services.
It has the support of various local and national groups who say wireless and broadband technologies need to be expanded statewide in order for the state to compete globally.
But opponents of the so-called "AT&T bill"— nicknamed after the largest company in support of the bill—say the measure allows telephone companies to stop landline service to rural areas, where doing so is expensive.
For supporters of legalizing hemp, it's a case of good news and bad news.
The good news? A bill filed in the Kentucky legislature that would allow farmers to grow hemp if federal restrictions are lifted is likely to have a hearing next month in the Senate Agriculture Committee, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
However, it remains uncertain whether the measure will be allowed to receive a vote. Sen. Paul Hornback, a Georgetown Republican and chairman of the committee, says members of his own party might block the committee from voting on the issue.
The Senate Republican Caucus will meet Feb. 6 in a closed-door meeting to discuss the measure.