Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

March 27, 2013

Hemp bill passes late

By RONNIE ELLIS
CNHI

FRANKFORT —  Throughout a two-month fight in the General Assembly to license hemp cultivation — assuming the federal government allows it — supporters claimed many virtues for the kindred plant of marijuana.

Maybe they should have claimed it offers powers of longevity and restoration.

Because just when the idea seemed beyond resuscitation, it rose from the dead Tuesday night in the final minutes of the 2013 General Assembly.

Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, and pushed hard by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, seemed dead late Tuesday when Hornback ended negotiations on an amendment by House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook.

Among other things, Adkins’ amendment placed the Hemp Commission with the University of Kentucky rather than the Department of Agriculture, changed the makeup of the commission, and required a five-year study. Hornback and Comer said they couldn’t agree to those changes and Comer apparently departed the Capitol thinking his signature issue had died — at least for this year.

But Comer returned to the Capitol after word spread that Adkins and Hornback had resumed negotiations and just after 11 p.m., the Democratic House passed an amended version of the bill 88-4.

As time ran out — the session had to end by midnight, according to the state constitution — Comer appeared outside the Senate, obviously weary but just as obviously relieved. Moments later, the Senate passed the measure 35-1.

“I’m very pleased,” Comer said, saying he was satisfied with the last-minute compromise between Adkins and Hornback. He said House Democrats faced “a lot of public pressure” to pass the bill after first appearing to kill it.

 

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