Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources


Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 7th Meeting

of the 2003 Interim


<MeetMDY1> November 12, 2003


The<MeetNo2> 7th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources was held on<Day> Wednesday,<MeetMDY2> November 12, 2003, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in<Room> Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Ernie Harris, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.


Present were:


Members:<Members> Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representatives James Gooch, Co-Chair, and Roger Thomas, Co-Chair; Senators Paul Herron Jr, Robert Leeper, Vernie McGaha, Virgil Moore, Joey Pendleton, Damon Thayer, and Elizabeth Tori; Representatives Rocky Adkins, Adrian Arnold, Sheldon Baugh, Scott Brinkman, James Bruce, Dwight Butler, Mike Cherry, Hubert Collins, James Comer, Howard Cornett, Tim Couch, Keith Hall, Jimmy Higdon, Charlie Hoffman, Thomas McKee, Brad Montell, Fred Nesler, Don Pasley, Marie Rader, Rick Rand, Dottie Sims, Brandon Smith, Jim Stewart, Ken Upchurch, Robin L. Webb, and Brent Yonts.


Guests:  Harvey Mitchell, Kentucky Department of Agriculture; Shanna Herron, Community Farm Alliance.


LRC Staff:  Dan Risch, Hank Marks, D. Todd Littlefield, DeVon Hankins, Tanya Monsanto, and Kelly Blevins


Senator Harris opened the meeting by asking for and receiving approval of the minutes of the October 8 and 9 meetings. He then asked Mr. Bob Bates, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, to report on HB 465 of the 2003 legislative session. Mr. Bates reported that the Department has hired 12 temporary employees who will continue their employment only as long as federal funding lasts. He said these employees work with landowners who voluntarily use land management practices to improve wildlife habitat. The land management practices are funded by grants under a variety of federal programs.


Next, Representative Roger Thomas reported for the Subcommittee on Rural Issues. He said that the subcommittee had focused throughout the year on topics particularly significant in rural Kentucky. He said these topics included: health care, education, transportation (especially options for seniors), economic development, dead animal disposal, small cities, and technology deployment. He concluded by saying he anticipated that a recommendation may be made to amend the state's economic development program to allow agribusinesses to qualify for state economic development incentives. The report was adopted.


Next, Senator Damon Thayer reported for the Subcommittee on Horse Farming. He said that each meeting focused on a specific equine sector, with presenters representing the various segments within each sector.  Testimony covered issues such as competitive position, organizational history, operational structure, service capacity and fiscal condition. The goal of the Subcommittee was to educate the public and Subcommittee members about the status of Kentucky’s equine industry.  He also said that there was a discussion on how the removal of sales tax on all equine related purchases would result in an revenue neutral fiscal impact and whether or not the tax issue was an issue of equity.  He reported that it was also suggested to the Subcommittee that the tax on the sale of horses is a disincentive for residents to purchase and keep their horses in Kentucky. The report was adopted.


Last, Senator Harris reported for the Subcommittee on Natural Resources. He reported that over the past several months, the subcommittee looked at a variety of topics including merchant power plants, the future of coalbed methane, implementation of Brownfields legislation, mine safety, and wild game shooting preserves. He said that representatives of the Kentucky Board on Electric Generation and Transmission Siting requested that the General Assembly entertain legislation that will require an applicant for a siting certificate to file a notice of intent to file an application 30 days prior to the filing, clarify the right of administrative appeal of Board decisions, and give the Board power to enforce the provisions of SB 257 (which created the board). He also said the Department of Mines and Minerals may seek legislation to update the coal mine safety statutes. The report was adopted.


Next, Secretary Hank List, Commissioner Bob Logan, and Ms. Kay Harker of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet gave an update on the Empower Kentucky project. They explained that the project has created an electronic system for permitting, inspections, enforcement and monitoring of entities regulated by the Divisions of Air, Water, and Waste. They said the cabinet regulates more than 46,000 entities and administers 40 state and federal environmental programs. In conclusion, they said that in the near future the internet will be used to assist permit applicants while at the same time preserving appropriate confidentiality of permit applicants.


Senator Vernie McGaha next reported on the first year activities of the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee. This report is available within the LRC publication Final Reports of the Interim Joint, Special, and Statutory Committees 2003.


In final remarks, Senator Harris, on behalf of the committee, expressed his appreciation to all the agencies and individuals who had assisted in the work of the committee throughout the year.


The meeting adjourned at approximately 2:40 p.m.