Public benefit corporation bill heads to Senate

For Immediate Release

February 14, 2017

Public benefit corporation bill heads to Senate

FRANKFORT—The Kentucky House has voted 78-17 for a bill that would allow public benefit corporations to do business in the Commonwealth.

Should House Bill 35 become law, Kentucky would become one of more than 31 states that allow for the creation of public benefit corporations– companies that make investments in a public benefit, or public good, part of their corporate philosophy while maximizing profits, said HB 35 sponsor Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville.

Miller said “value investments” made by public benefit corporations totaled around $4 billion in 2012 alone.

“This is something that Kentucky needs,” Miller said. “Public benefits that currently have to be provided by government can be met by public benefit corporations that are interested in creating long term value and in serving the public.”

There are now Kentucky companies that have an interest in becoming public benefit corporations, he told the House, including software company MobileServe in Louisville, Victory Hemp in Campbellsburg and others. The bill may even bring companies back to Kentucky that are now in other states, he said. Rubicon Global, a full-service Atlanta-based waste and recycling company founded by Kentuckian Nate Morris, could be one of those companies, Miller explained.

Morris “has recently become very active in the Gatton School at the University of Kentucky, and I hope that if we pass this legislation, companies like Rubicon Global and others will bring their business here,” said Miller. 

Concerns about the bill were raised by Rep. Jim Gooch, R-Providence, who asked Miller how it is determined that a corporation’s values are a public benefit. Miller said those values are laid out in the company’s bylaws and articles of incorporation and can cover a variety of goals.

Gooch said he still doesn’t understand the necessity for the legislation. “We’re setting up a totally different type of corporation here, maybe even before we determine what the public benefit is.”

HB 35 now goes to the Senate for its consideration. 


Fentanyl crackdown bill clears House committee

For Immediate Release

February 16, 2017

Fentanyl crackdown bill clears House committee

FRANKFORT—A bill that would make it a felony to illegally sell or distribute any amount of fentanyl, carfentanil and related drugs tied to an increase in drug overdoses in Kentucky has passed the House Judiciary Committee.

Trafficking in any amount of fentanyl, a pain killer now frequently imported for illegal street sales, and drugs derived from fentanyl as well as carfentanil—a large animal anesthetic said to be 10,000 times more potent than morphine—would carry up to 10 years in prison under House Bill 333, sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill. Trafficking over certain amounts of the drugs could carry even longer sentences.

The bill would also make fentanyl derivatives—which potentially number 800 or more, state officials say–part of the same class of drugs as heroin and LSD. Those drugs are classified as Schedule I by the federal DEA which describes the drugs as having no “currently accepted medical use.”

“Whatever (fentanyl derivative) is thrown at us in the future will be a Schedule I controlled substance under Kentucky law,” if HB 333 passes, Office of Drug Control Policy Executive Director Van Ingram told the committee.

Fentanyl, carfentanil and fentanyl derivatives are being mixed with heroin and sold on the street as heroin or other drugs. Some cities and counties have experienced dozens of overdoses in the span of a day or two because of the potency of the drugs which, Ingram said, can be disguised as pharmaceuticals like Xanax or Percocet.

“The business model for drug cartels is to mix fentanyl with heroin and make it look like (something else),” said Ingram. “It’s a much better —- for them. It’s a very deadly situation for our population.”

HB 333 would also create a felony offense called trafficking in a misrepresented controlled substance for those who pass off carfentanil, fentanyl or fentanyl derivatives as an actual pharmaceutical, like Xanax. 

Another provision in the bill would limit prescriptions for fentanyl to a three-day supply with few exceptions, said Moser. Rep. Angie Hatton, D-Pikeville, questioned how the legislation would prevent someone from getting another dose from another physician after receiving their three days’ worth. Moser said the KASPER system, which tracks prescriptions written in Kentucky for all scheduled drugs, is still in place to monitor what is prescribed.

“This language does not preclude the fact that physicians have to document with the PDMPs or prescription drug monitoring programs. KASPER is still a way to monitor… that’s still a requirement,” said Moser.

HB 333 now goes to the full House for consideration.


Lawmaker says top issue for constituents is marijuana; oncologist advocates for safe access

02/12/2017 12:39 PM

Far and away the largest number of phone calls from constituents of Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, are in support of marijuana legalization, and he says he’s heard plenty of other lawmakers also getting the calls.

Nemes recently published online what voters are calling him about, and in a phone interview with Pure Politics he said the calls on marijuana come in three forms: advocating for medical marijuana in pill form, medical marijuana that can be smoked and full-scale state legalization of the federally illegal drug.

“I’m getting contacted on all three of those areas, I don’t know where I am on it, but the Kentucky Medical Association tells me there’s no studies that show that it’s effective,” Nemes said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Dr. Don Stacy, a board certified radiation oncologist who works in the Kentucky and Indiana areas, said there’s a reason there’s no studies proving effectiveness — studies have not been allowed to take place.

“It’s one of those things where we can’t provide randomized phase three studies in cannabis without making it legal — that is the gold standard for any sort of medicine,” Stacy said. “We have a variety of studies of that nature from other countries of course, but American physicians are very particular about American data. The database we have now is plenty enough to say we shouldn’t be arresting patients for trying to help themselves.”

Stacy said he became interested in marijuana after he noticed some of his patients were doing better with treatment than similar patients. In reviewing their records and through private discussions with the patients, he learned “a significant portion” of those doing better were the patients using marijuana.

“I was surprised by that,” he said. “I’ve always been a skeptic of alternative medicines, but then I began to research the data. I was impressed with the data.”

Dr. Stacy said he’s had some particular patients who showed minor or moderate improvements or side effects, but patients who had to stop treatment because the toxicity of the treatment was so severe. The patients who had to stop treatment tried marijuana, and then they were able to complete their treatments showing “dramatic differences,” Stacy said.

Because of the improvements in patients, Stacy is advocating for safe and legal access to the drug.

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia allow access to medical marijuana in different forms. Through those states allowing access, Stacy said several show improvements outside of overall medical care.

In states that have legalized medical marijuana the suicide rate has dropped by 10 percent among males 18 to 40, he said.

“It says when people have serious medical or behavioral issues — if you cannot find the treatment that helps you then some people decide to end their lives, and cannabis apparently prevents a certain portion of people from doing that.”

Stacy said that there is also a 10 percent decrease in physicians prescribing narcotics in medical marijuana states. The effect of that, Stacy said is a 25 percent decrease in overdose deaths linked to narcotics in states with medical cannabis laws. With the level of heroin and opiate abuse in Kentucky, he said there would be positive effects seen here too.

“I think that one-quarter of the people who will overdose and die of narcotics in this state in this year would be alive if we had a medical cannabis law.”


Kentucky: House Introduces Constitutional/Permit less Carry Legislation

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Kentucky House of Representatives introduced their own constitutional/permit less carry bill. House Bill 316, sponsored by Representative C. Wesley Morgan (R-81), recognizes Kentuckians’ freedom to legally carry a concealed firearm without the burdensome requirement of acquiring a Kentucky concealed deadly weapons license. It is of the utmost importance that this bill be scheduled for a hearing as soon as possible.

Your NRA-ILA would like to thank Representative Morgan and the House Leadership for understanding the urgency of this important legislation. The 2017 legislative session is short, and constitutional/permit less carry legislation must progress fast through the legislative process to have a chance at being signed into law this year.

HB 316 would allow any law-abiding individual who can legally possess a firearm to carry a handgun for self-defense in Kentucky without having to obtain a permit to do so.  This bill recognizes a law-abiding adult’s unconditional Right to Keep and Bear Arms for self-defense in the manner he or she chooses.  Self-defense situations are difficult, if not impossible, to anticipate.  Accordingly, a law-abiding adult’s right to defend himself or herself in such situations should not be conditioned by government-mandated time delays and taxes.  Additionally, this constitutional/permit less carry legislation would keep the current permitting system in place so individuals who obtain a permit could still enjoy the reciprocity agreements that Kentucky has with other states.

Please contact your state Representative and state Senator in support of House Bill 316 and Senate Bill 7 by calling 1-800-372-7181.  Please continue to check and your email inbox for alerts on the latest action items.

(KY) HB 147 College immunization bill clears House committee

For Immediate Release

February 9, 2017

College immunization bill clears House committee

FRANKFORT—Whooping cough. Measles. Meningitis. Just hearing these words can strike fear in most any parent or school teacher.

But it’s not just young school children who are at risk. College and university students can also get communicable diseases says Dr. Patty Swiney, a Kentucky family physician and mother who testified alongside House Health and Welfare Chair Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, today in support of Wuchner’s House Bill 147. The bill would require students to submit proof of immunization against measles, mumps, rubella and meningococcal disease before enrolling at Kentucky public or private colleges or universities with residential campuses starting this fall.

HB 147, also sponsored by Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, a pharmacist, passed the House Health and Welfare Committee and now goes to the House floor for consideration.

Swiney said college students living in close quarters like dormitories are susceptible to communicable diseases which are “vaccine-preventable.”

“They live, eat and, we all hope, study in close quarters,” said Swiney, but they are likely to write off illness symptoms as fatigue from too much studying or something else. She mentioned an outbreak of measles at Disneyland in 2015 in which 147 people were infected by “a single, non-vaccinated person.”

“Luckily there were no deaths, but a significant number of work and school days were missed… and all of this was preventable,” said Swiney.

Wuchner, a trained nurse, said HB 147 would exempt students who object to medical vaccination on religious grounds in a written sworn statement. It would also exempt students enrolled only in online or other distance-learning classes. Others, she explained, would have to receive what she called “catch-up” immunizations to protect themselves and those around them.

“As a nurse, I have strong memories of the first case of meningococcal meningitis that I ever encountered, and they will stay with you forever,” she said.



HB 147 (BR 471) – A. Wuchner, D. Bentley
     AN ACT relating to the vaccination of postsecondary students.
     Create a new section of KRS Chapter 164 to require students entering postsecondary education institutions to submit documentation of vaccination for diseases required by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services; provide for religious exemption; provide that the cabinet is not required to pay for the vaccinations.

KDA proposes legislation to help feed the hungry

Ag News


Proposals would double tax credit for donated food, strengthen liability protections

For Immediate Release
Monday, January 30, 2017
For more information contact:
Angela Blank
(502) 573-0450

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has come forward with legislation to help businesses and .individuals who wish to donate food to organizations that serve hungry Kentuckians.

“These measures would provide incentives and protections for those who want to join the fight against hunger in Kentucky,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “This is due to the work of the Hunger Task Force, which met for the first time last spring. This is just the beginning of our efforts to reduce food insecurity in the Commonwealth.”

One proposal would double the tax credit for food products donated to food banks to 20 percent. The current tax credit is 10 percent and is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. Quarles also called for the tax credit to be made permanent. Few Kentucky farmers know about the tax credit, and even fewer use it. The state Department of Revenue reported that only one taxpayer was approved to claim the credit in its first two years. Quarles said this measure would provide a stronger financial incentive for farmers to donate surplus foods.

A second proposal would strengthen the shield against legal liability for food donations beyond that of the federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, making Kentucky’s food donor immunity shield one of the strongest in the nation. The measure would provide a stronger immunity shield for individuals and businesses, and their employees, who donate to food banks; for food banks and their employees; and for landowners who allow gleaners to come onto their land to pick vegetables and fruits for the hungry.

Commissioner Quarles launched the first-of-its-kind Kentucky Hunger Initiative and formed the Hunger Task Force last spring to bring together farmers, businesses, charitable organizations, faith groups, community leaders, government entities, and others to study food insecurity in Kentucky and take an inventory of the resources that can be utilized against the problem.

To raise awareness of the scope of the hunger problem in Kentucky, the KDA will join the Kentucky Association of Food Banks to host the annual Rally to Solve Hunger on Feb. 7 at 1 p.m. EST at the Capitol Rotunda.

Map the Meal Gap 2016, an annual study by Feeding America, revealed that one in six Kentuckians – including one in five children – was food insecure in 2014, meaning that consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year. Kentucky organizations that serve the hungry fed an estimated 58 million meals to approximately 611,000 Kentuckians in 2016.

For more information about the Hunger Initiative and the Hunger Task Force, go to

Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell Launch ‘Bold and Aggressive’ 200-Day Plan to Implement Trump Agenda

by Neil W. McCabe28 Jan 2017Philadelphia2,241

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania–Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R.-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) told reporters Thursday at the Republicans’ policy retreat here that they are committed to a 200-day program to implement the agenda of President Donald J. Trump.

“We are actually having a fantastic opportunity right here in Philadelphia,” said Ryan, wearing a striped button down oxford shirt and tan pants combination in keeping with the “retreat” atmosphere of the party’s three-day series of workshops, speeches, and mixers. The Republicans arrived Wednesday morning and stayed until their working breakfast Friday.

In addition to workshops and discussions, the Republicans were visited by Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Super Bowl champion quarterback Peyton Manning.

“We are talking about the improvement of people’s lives and getting our country back on track,” he said. “House Republicans and Senate Republicans are working on a plan and bold agenda to get moving and work with our new administration.”

New administrations have been captive to the “First 100 Days” framing ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt came into office in 1933 with a whirlwind of legislation and administrative actions. But, Ryan said, the Republicans had developed along with the Trump White House a 200-day plan that will wrap up with the August recess.

At the end of the 200 days, Capitol Hill Republicans expect to have repealed and replaced Obamacare, filled the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, and executed the most dramatic reform of the federal tax code since President Ronald W. Reagan’s flattening of tax rates in 1986.

Ryan said no one should be shocked by the ambitious agenda.

“We ran on these issue in 2016, so there’s no surprises here and the president agrees to this agenda,” he said.

Along the way, the emphasis or focus is going to change, depending on whether the messaging is coming from the White House or Capitol Hill, but Ryan insisted that he and Trump and McConnell are on the same page.

McConnell said he is working on a daily basis with the president and his staff to map out a bold and aggressive program that both fixes the problems and mistakes left by the last administration and fulfills campaign promises made in 2016.

“We are on the same page,” the senator said.

For some items, such as immigration or even building the wall along the Mexican border, there are no legislative fights ahead because the laws were already passed. The wall was authorized by the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and the president is going to merely enforce the immigration laws his predecessor ignored.

McConnell said a major factor in moving from the traditional 100-day plan to a 200-day plan was the Senate’s confirmation workload. Dozens of appointments require Senate approval, which he said converts the Senate into the White House’s personnel office.

“The speaker understands the challenges of getting things done in the Senate,” he said. “That’s been true for 240 years, we are aware of those challenges, and we think we can move forward.”

The Republican majority in the Senate is 52-to-48, which means even with Vice President Michael R. Pence available to break a tie, if three GOP senators defect, the Democrats win.

This tight margin means that the Senate Republicans do not have the votes to end debate and force a vote, which requires 60 votes.

To make an end run around lacking the votes for cloture, Republicans are forced to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act through the budget reconciliation process. In this process, the budget bills are privileged, so they must come to a vote after 50 hours of debate. The drawback to this process is that bills can only deal with budget-related issues, and whatever is passed expires in 10 years. When Congress voted to repeal Obamacare in the week before Trump was sworn in, it was really a partial repeal that gutted the fees, taxes, and fines associated with President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform but left the rules and regulations in place.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D.-N.Y.) has vowed to block and delay the Republicans at every turn, when it comes to Obamacare.

McConnell said, “If Hillary Clinton were president and Chuck Schumer were the majority leader, we would be revisiting Obamacare. The status quo is clearly unacceptable. If Hillary Clinton were president and Chuck Schumer were majority leader, we’d be moving toward a single-payer system.” A single-payer system is one in which all healthcare expenses are paid by the government.

Another development at the retreat was the resolve among GOP senators to fill the vacancy left by the Feb. 13, 2016 death of Justice Antonin G. Scalia.

Again the problem is the GOP’s lack of 60 votes.

Before then-majority leader Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) invoked the “nuclear option” in 2013, all confirmations were part of the two-step process of ending debate with 60 votes and then confirming the nominee with a simple majority. Reid executed a challenge to the rule for nominees in order to break the logjam of Obama appointments–blocked by the Republican minority. With this maneuver, Reid was able to fill vacancies on federal benches, at the Federal Communications Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — all of which led a torrent of new regulations as well as favorable rulings from newly appointed judges.

With respect to presidential appointments, Reid shattered a long-standing Senate protocol, which says that unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate works its will either through consensus or exhaustion.

But he left one piece of the protocol in place: the Supreme Court. One of the main reasons Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, Judge Merrick Garland, languished was that the 60-vote threshold was insurmountable going into the 2016 elections. Now, that same reason gives Schumer and Senate Democrats a veto over anyone Trump nominates for the high court.

It is now clear from conversations with Republican senators and staff that if ending debate on Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court is blocked by Schumer, the GOP is ready to strike down the last vestige of the filibuster for presidential appointees.

The only answer a Republican senator gives for the record on the matter is: “The seat will be filled.” It is the same answer every time from everyone.

The last big item is the overhaul of the federal tax code. Of all of the GOP plans, this is the one most hidden from public view.

In the past, the grand bargain of Republican tax reform proposals was to return to the ideals of the 1986 legislation, which eliminated deductions in exchange for lowering rates. Flattening the tax code, or even going to a flat tax with one rate with very few deductions,was the ultimate goal.

Trump-era tax reform is something else entirely. This is full-on industrial policy and a shifting of the tax burden back onto imports and off of exports. This is not a new idea and, given the man’s popularity on Broadway, it is only fitting that America returns to the essence of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s 1791 “Report on Subject Manufactures.” This was the country’s economic DNA until the post-World War II shift towards America sacrificing its interests for the rest of the world.

Hamilton called on Congress to protect “infant industries” with tariffs on imported goods, which until 1916 and the birth of the income tax provided the vast majority of federal revenues.

Today, the United States runs a trade deficit of $30-to-$40 billion per month, and Republicans are ready to tap or monetize that trade gap to the tune of $1 trillion per year. How they are going to do it is beyond the scope of this course. Suffice to say, they intend to not only raise this revenue to pay for massive tax cuts, but also to remove the economic incentive for American companies to move manufacturing overseas and then ship their finished products into the United States.

Of course, the ox gored in this reform is retailers and companies which rely on imported materials but do not export. Those folks are completely aware of what is going on, and of all the fights coming to Capitol Hill in the next 200 days, the tax overhaul will be the most vicious and the most likely to break up friendships.

In the end, though Trump is the man making all of this possible, and it is Trump who will be responsible for holding things together.

It is almost surreal to hear Ryan or McConnell speak of the president with respect and affection after a campaign cycle in which neither man dared stand up for him publicly amid crisis after crisis.

Yet the Republican Party is now Trump’s party, with the exception of Sen. John S. McCain III (R.-Ariz.) and his sidekick Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R.-S.C.). But two rebels does not become a problem until they find a third senator. Otherwise, the Capitol Hill Republicans are on board and on duty for the president.

It is also fair to say that Trump is also on board and on duty for his congressional party. More than once in his young presidency, he has signaled that he will fight alongside his congressmen and senators and give them political cover — a luxury never enjoyed by Democrats serving under Obama.

Read More Stories About:

Big Government, Alexander Hamilton, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, House Republicans, Judge Merrick Garland, Justice Antonin G. Scalia, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Donald J. Trump, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Secure Fence Act of 2006, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D.-N.Y.), Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.), Sen. John S. McCain III (R.-Ariz.), Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R.-S.C.), Senate Republicans, Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R.-Wis.), Supreme Court, Vice-President Michael R. Pence

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