EDITORIAL: Bill on hemp deserves an up/down vote
Mar 03, 2013 (Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A legislative committee chairman has many responsibilities, one of which is to allow an up or down vote on bills of broad public interest.
Most Kentucky legislators who head these committees are quite aware of this responsibility, but apparently House Agriculture and Small Business Committee Chairman Tom McKee doesn't believe that is part of his job description.
On Wednesday, the committee heard nearly two hours of testimony on Senate Bill 50 that was laying the groundwork for possible passage of legislation to legalize hemp farming in our state.
But when other members moved for passage, the Cynthiana Democrat ruled them out of order and quickly adjourned the meeting. He then stated he would reconvene the meeting for further action on the bill after session. But during a recess in session, he adjourned the committee at his desk.
A reasonable leader doesn't act in this arbitrary manner.
It was clear that SB 50 had the votes to pass committee. McKee wanted a substitute version to the bill but didn't have the 15 votes to revise Shelbyville Republican Sen. Paul Hornback's bill, which passed the Senate last month 31-6.
It sounds like McKee simply had sour grapes because he didn't have the necessary votes to get the version he favored through committee.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said it best about McKee when stated: "This is a perfect example of everything wrong with Frankfort right now."
He is exactly right. A vote on this issue, which has vast support from both Democrats and Republicans, should have been allowed and McKee was derelict in his duties of chairman of this committee for the underhanded way he handled this matter.
There is still time in this session to allow and up or down vote on this matter. We believe McKee needs to act like a leader and allow the committee to have that opportunity on SB 50.
It's the right thing to do and is the reason why we send legislators to Frankfort.
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