KFB Directors meet with state officials

Posted on Mar 1, 2014
Less than 24 hours after being an honored guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address, Governor Steve Beshear met with KFB’s Board of Directors as part of their two-day meeting in Frankfort. Senate President Robert Stivers and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer also addressed the group, plus dozens of state legislators and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer attended an evening reception held by KFB.

KFB President Mark Haney introduces Governor Beshear.
KFB President Mark Haney introduces Governor Beshear.

Governor Beshear focused most of his remarks on his Executive Budget proposal which is before the General Assembly. Noting that he included funding for a new Breathitt Veterinary Lab in Hopkinsville, he said “I did the easy part; now this needs your help” with the legislature. “Be vigilent. Go to these Senate and House members and ask for support. There’s a lot of work to do.”

The Breathitt Center has been a KFB priority issue for several years.

Obviously aware that KFB is not keen on the so-called “Obamacare,” Governor Beshear asked the KFB leaders to keep an open mind.

“Throw out the politics --  there’s a lot of good stuff in there,” he said, referencing the provisions of the new health care law. He then noted that nearly 200,000 Kentuckians had enrolled during the first two months.

Turning to agriculture, Governor Beshear  said he was pleased with the current status of the state’s farm economy.

“I like where we are,” he said. “The market deserves the credit but we’ve also been smart. We are moving in the right direction.”

He commended KFB for its work with the agricultural development process.

“I want to thank you for the partnership we’ve had over the past six years,” he said.

Senate President Robert Stivers said his top priority was his bill to limit the use of executive orders and regulations.
Senate President Robert Stivers said his top priority was his bill to limit the use of executive orders and regulations.

Stivers, a Republican from Clay County, directed most of his comments toward tax reform and the state budget. But he said his top priority was Senate Bill 1, which restricts the use of Executive Orders and regulations. He explained how it is possible for government to use those tools to undermine the intent of laws enacted by the legislative branch. Those situations, he said, have been particularly harmful to business.

Stivers made what several KFB Directors felt was a sound argument against the assertion by urban interests that those areas do not receive a fair share of the state budget outlays by comparison to the revenues from those areas. Stivers made several points as to the sizeable amount of urban business income that comes from rural residents. In one particular point he made, he said that 87 percent of the patients at the UK Medical Center come from outside of Fayette County. He also referenced the sizeable amount of trade that rural residents bring to the Louisville area, especially for special events like the State Fair.

KFB Public Affairs Director Jeff Harper enjoys a light moment with Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.
KFB Public Affairs Director Jeff Harper enjoys a light moment with Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

Commissioner Comer may have surprised the KFB leaders when he confessed that he is somewhat embarrassed by all the media attention he receives from the industrial hemp issue.

“You’d think that’s all we do at the department,” he said, grinning.

Comer said the department had been working hard to help farmers find propane during this winter’s shortage and has a wide variety of programs on the move. And yet he continues to receive “national press” on the hemp issue, despite his acknowledgment that a significant development of the crop in Kentucky is probably years away, Comer said.

He also was quick to assert that he is not “pushing” legislation that would abolish the Governor’s Office for Agricultural Policy and transfer the work to KDA. “We’re not lobbying that, but we will make it work if it comes to be,” he said.

Tagged Post Topics Include: Breathitt Veterinary Lab, Clay County, Commissioner of Agriculture, General Assembly, Governor, Greg Fischer, Hopkinsville, James Comer, Louisville Mayor, Public Policy, Robert Stivers, Steve Beshear