President's Column | A Look Back at the 2022 Kentucky General AssemblyPosted on May 6, 2022
As another session of the Kentucky General Assembly has come to a close, it is time to reflect on the legislation that passed that benefits our farm families and rural communities. It's also a good time to look at bills that did not pass.
So often, as this organization continues to advocate for our agricultural industry, what doesn't become law or regulation is just as important as what does.
Many times, well-meaning lawmakers will introduce a bill that has negative ramifications for those of us on the farm and it’s up to organizations like Kentucky Farm Bureau, and our dedicated members, to keep them updated with correct information.
Fortunately, the majority of our General Assembly members are knowledgeable about the ag industry and the needs of the rural communities across the Commonwealth.
And our volunteer members throughout the state always step up to discuss issues from their courthouses to the halls of Frankfort, and on to our nation's capital.
I’m proud to say that KFB’s efforts during the 2022 General Assembly session were very successful. First and foremost, with a new budget in place, agriculture will benefit greatly.
Through the efforts of so many of our legislators, we maintained 50 percent of the Master Settlement Agreement Funds to the Agricultural Development Board; $9 million went to support disaster recovery and relief efforts at the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence located in Princeton; the Kentucky Rural Mental Health and Suicide Prevention program will receive $500,000 in each fiscal year; and $1.75 million went to Western Kentucky University for the Kentucky Mesonet in each fiscal year. And those are just a few of the ag-related budgetary successes.
In keeping with our commitment to advocate for rural infrastructure needs, we once again supported legislation that maintained the 22.2 percent allocation of the state gas tax revenue for rural roads.
From a tax perspective, HB 8 will establish thresholds for a rate reduction for the state income tax. This bill will also exempt drugs and over-the-counter drugs purchased by a person regularly engaged in the business of farming from sales and use tax.
Other beneficial legislation included HB 390 which adds the Commissioner of Agriculture as a voting member to the Kentucky Economic Development Partnership Board, and HB 315 establishes the Office of Broadband Development and administratively attaches it to the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority. It also appropriates $300 million for deployment of broadband to underserved areas.
One other bill worth mentioning is SB 163 which would have allowed the use of KEES funds for student enrollment in a qualified proprietary school program. This legislation was vetoed and since it passed on the last day of the session the veto could not be overturned. We feel as though this bill would have been beneficial to students who choose a different path other than a four-year college, and giving our young people as many options for furthering their education as possible is very important. Our hope is this legislation will resurface again.
Thanks to our members for their dedication to the advocacy process and our legislators who still understand the value of our farms and farm families.
Mark Haney, President
Kentucky Farm Bureau