by Representative Michael Lee Meredith:
The pace picked up during week three of the 2019 Regular Session, with legislation on its way to the Senate for consideration after clearing House committees and the full House. Already almost 600 bills and resolutions have been filed for consideration in the House and Senate, and there are still four weeks before the deadline for requesting a bill be drafted.
The first bill to pass the House this session was, quite fittingly, a nod to our agricultural heritage. House Bill 236 is part of our ongoing effort to help Kentucky farmers growing industrial hemp. Its provisions will bring our state further in line with federal guidelines in order to promote the hemp industry. The measure has the support of many in the agricultural community, including Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. HB 236 now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Another pro-farming bill, HB 308, was filed this week and I look forward to the discussion it brings about how critical it is to keep farm land dedicated to agriculture as well as how we can support young people who want to farm. This measure would establish a tax credit as an incentive for those who currently farm to sell land and assets to those who are beginning their farming career. If passed, HB 308 would provide a tax credit when land and assets are sold to a beginning farmer. The maximum amount of credit that can be claimed under HB 308 is $25,000 per year and farmers must be Kentucky residents to qualify for the credit.
The House voted unanimously to approve legislation honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while defending our nation. The bill, HB 17, would designate the Honor and Remember Flag as the state's emblem of the service and sacrifice of the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. Kentuckians have been defending this nation since before we were a state, and more than 11,000 Kentuckians have died in combat in the century since World War I.
Our veterans’ nursing home in Bowling Green is one step closer to reality after members of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee approved the bill and sent it to the full House for consideration. House Bill 24 appropriates $2.5 million for design and preconstruction from the state’s general fund to the Kentucky Department of Veterans’ Affairs. This funding comes in addition to the $10.5 million in state bond funding that was allocated by the 2017 General Assembly. This project has been my number one priority for several years and I am happy to see us get one step closer.
Of course, the budget still remains our priority this session. Budget subcommittees have already begun meeting, but we look forward to hearing from Governor Andy Beshear about his budget proposal. The Governor’s budget speech is scheduled for this Tuesday, January 28 at 6 p.m. CST and will be shown live on Kentucky Educational Television’s website, www.ket.org.
I hope to continue updating you on our work in Frankfort. If you have any questions or comments about this session, I can be reached during the week from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (EST) through the toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181. They will ask you to share contact information, but I will get the message and I do indeed appreciate hearing from constituents. You can also contact me via e-mail at Michael.Meredith@lrc.ky.gov. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.legislature.ky.gov.