Senator Carpenter visits Madison County chapter

Last Monday, October 28, the Madison County chapter invited state senator Jared Carpenter to Berea for a lobby meeting, where the senator and KFTC members discussed the upcoming legislative session, including the possibility of Carpenter’s support for KFTC legislative priorities. The meeting began with a brief talk by Carpenter about his own legislative priorities, which included encouraging the growth of industry and infrastructure in Madison County and stopping the heroin trade in Kentucky, which he believed could be done with “tougher punishments for the folks producing and selling heroin.”

After Carpenter’s discussion of his priorities, the conversation turned to KFTC initiatives, which began with the Kentucky Voting Rights Amendment (HB 70). Meta Mendel-Reyes explained KFTC’s support for the bill to Senator Carpenter, describing the difficulty convicted felons experience when attempting to regain the right to vote after serving their sentence. The difficulty has resulted in the disenfranchisement 180,000 Kentuckians, Meta adding “That’s a lot of Kentuckians deprived of the right to vote.” Meta asked Senator Carpenter whether he would support the bill to the Senate leadership, and whether he would support the bill without the addition of any changes or restrictions. After some further discussion, the senator agreed to support the bill, saying that “I won’t have a problem with supporting the bill” to the senate leadership.

KFTC members discussed several legislative priorities with Senator Carpenter and explicitly asked for his support on each piece of legislation, including the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, fair tax reform and the Stream Saver Bill. Unfortunately, Senator Carpenter was more hesitant to support these proposals than HB 70. He committed to holding a hearing on the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, but expressed doubts that the Stream Saver Bill would receive a hearing in committee. The lobby meeting concluded with a broad ranging discussion about the future of Eastern Kentucky. Chapter member Steve Wilkins asked the senator what Eastern Kentucky would do for jobs after the coal industry could no longer provide jobs. Carpenter acknowledged the problem, but said that a transition from coal at this point would be unrealistic, describing coal as the main “economic crutch” for Eastern Kentucky.

Although the discussion with Senator Carpenter involved as much disagreement as agreement, KFTC members were able to find common ground with the senator on a handful of issues, particularly the importance of passing HB 70. The conversation was particularly productive due to the members who presented KFTC’s legislative agenda, including Meta Mendel-Reyes, Steve Wilkins, Betty Hibbler and Daniel Morgan, who kept the senator on topic and on his toes by directly asking for his support for their respective issues.


Madison County Lobby Meeting with Jared Carpenter October 2013 Madison County Lobby Meeting with Jared Carpenter October 2013

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