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Senate President Robert Stivers says medical marijuana, gambling bills not likely to pass this year

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Senate President Robert Stivers on Thursday said medical marijuana and gambling aren’t on the radar when lawmakers return for the final two days next week, April 13 and 14.

He said Senate leadership is meeting to look at pending bills they still want to enact in the last two days, then meet with House leadership.

Stivers indicated House Bill 606, legalizing sports wagering, is not at the top of their list for legislative action next week.

Senate President Robert Stivers (Photo by Tom Latek/Kentucky Today

“It is not that big of a fiscal issue in our budget,” he said. “My opinion is that this would only be a multiple decimal point down in the overall receipts. If you think about a dollar, this wouldn’t even be a penny in receipts, for what it may generate. I’m kind of ambivalent towards it.”

He said he didn’t think it was much of an entertainment issue when you think about what Kentucky’s real draws are for entertainment.

“When you think about the bourbon industry, horseracing in and of itself, adventure tourism, our parks, our horse farms, things of that nature, this is not as significant an economic generator.”

The medical marijuana bill, HB 136, is also not on his priority list.

He says he would first like to see lawmakers approve a measure sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, which calls for a study by the University of Kentucky, on who might or might not benefit from medical cannabis.

Stivers said: “Every study I‘ve read said the sample sizes have been to small, the duration is too long, and therefore more study is needed, because the studies have shown it is adverse to the development of the brain for those under 25, higher likelihood of psychotic incidence if you have prolonged use, and if you smoke it, it has 50% more carcinogens than a cigarette.”
The Manchester Republican told reporters at the Capitol press conference, “There are always issues that we and the Democrats don’t agree upon, but we have done some things on a very bipartisan and collegial fashion on numerous issues, and in a bi-cameral fashion with the House.”

Stivers painted the session an overall success. Here are some of the reasons he gave as to why:

• Record funding for education.

• Record investment for developing tourism initiatives.

• Being responsible with the budgets, having a large “rainy day” fund, which bodes well for fiscal ratings and responsibilities from the ratings agencies.

• Did not use one-time dollars for recurring expenses.

“I think overall we looked at the needs of the state,” Stivers said, “particularly coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and dealt with some of those, with either ARPA funds or looking at educational initiatives in the realm of nursing, to correct some of the things that were glaringly shown to us during the pandemic.”

When asked if there are any vetoes by Gov. Andy Beshear that lawmakers wouldn’t override, Stivers replied, “I’m sure that there might be some. We want to read the veto messages and see what his rationale is.”

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