Today marks the forty-first legislative day of the 2016 session of the Kentucky General Assembly. As of yesterday only two pieces of legislation have been passed by the House and Senate. With only nineteen days left in this session the pace of legislation moving through the process will pick up.
We want to thank everyone that attended our Legislative Drive-In/Food Check-Out Day activities on Wednesday. We had a great crowd in attendance and it was good to see the halls of Frankfort filled with Farm Bureau leaders from across the state.
The House of Representatives continues to work on the State Budget (HB 303). In speaking with key members of the House we have every indication that fifty percent of the Master Settlement Agreement fund will remain allocated to the Agricultural Development Board. Below are the highlights of Governor Bevin’s budget proposal that pertain to our funding priorities:
2016 State Priority Issues
“Maintain allocating 50% of the Master Settlement Agreement funds to the Agricultural Development Board, and funds be spent for the purpose of improving the net farm income of individual farmers in production agriculture.”
“Support continued funding of the Soil Erosion & Water Quality Cost-Share Program.”
“Support an efficient, well-administered and adequately financed Kentucky Department of Agriculture.”
Other bills of interest:
This bill would establish the 11-member Kentucky Water Resources Board. This bill would also identify the role and function of the board in developing water resource policy. It will amend KRS 151.110 to include agriculture in the list of reasons water resources have become of vital importance to the Commonwealth and requires the cabinet to provide leadership for on-farm and rural community drought and water assessment monitoring, and improvements for agricultural purposes. It authorizes the cabinet to receive and disperse federal, state, and other funds for on-farm and community drought and water assessment, monitoring, and improvements. This bill passed out of the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee on Wednesday and was placed on the House consent calendar for passage on Monday, March 7.
2016 State Priority Issue
“Support the creation of a Kentucky water resource management program that will create, support, and advocate a coordinated effort to manage water resource projects across the Commonwealth.”
This bill would declare the state’s preemption in seed regulation. It would also define “blend” and “brand” and clarify standards on seed coatings, mixtures, and varieties and prescribe labeling permit stipulations and clarify germination test deadlines and relabeling requirements. This bill has passed out of the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee on Wednesday.
This bill would change the definition of “agricultural land” and “horticultural land” and to delete the definition of “agricultural or horticultural value”. It would also clarify the requirements that must be met for property to be classified as agricultural or horticultural property and to establish parameters for the valuation of such property once it has been classified. It would apply to assessments made on or after January 1, 2017. This bill was filed on March 1 and we are currently analyzing this bill very closely for any impacts to the current property tax structure of agricultural and horticultural land.
Please note there will be four Special Elections for the seats listed below on Tuesday, March 8, 2016.
House District 8 – Christian and Trigg counties
House District 54 – Boyle and Casey counties
House District 62 – Fayette, Owen, and Scott counties
House District 98 – Boyd and Greenup counties
We thank those county Farm Bureau’s with special elections for conducting a Measure-the-Candidate Forum. It is critically important to know what the candidate’s views are regarding our State Priority Issues and our policy.
HOW TO CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS
During the week, you may reach your representative and senator in Frankfort by calling 502.564.8100. If you do not desire to talk to your state legislator immediately or you just want to leave a message, you may dial toll-free 800.372.7181. An answering service will take your message for your representative or senator. The legislative calendar information line is 800.633.9650, the bill status line is 866.840.2835, and the Governor’s office number is 502.564.2611
The following are registered to lobby for Kentucky Farm Bureau for the 2016 session: Jeff Harper, Public Affairs Director, extension 5104; Bryan Alvey extension 7218; Tony Sholar, extension 5121, and David S. Beck, extension 5101. If you would like to call your lobbyists during the evening, call 502-352-4280 at the Frankfort headquarters or call 502.495.5000 and key in their extensions.
If you would like to contact one of your lobbyists during the day, please call Sara Stivers at 502.495.5121 and she will put you in touch with one of them.