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A legislative forum Saturday morning with state Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, brought good news to supporters of the proposed Jefferson Community and Technical College campus in Carrollton.
Hornback told the more than 75 people who gathered at the downtown courthouse to meet the senator — new to representing Carroll County because of redistricting — that he supports the project and believes it stands a good chance of being funded this year.
The fact it made Gov. Steve Beshear’s budget combined with the focus on education this year in Frankfort give it a good chance, he said. These are helped because both he and Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, will be in the final budget negotiations. Hornback is a member of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, while Rand is chairman of A&R in the state House, he said.
Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson said the JCTC campus here has an impact on the region
Because of the age of baby-boomers, Tomlinson said area industries have a lot of people in good jobs that will be retiring over the next several years. “If they don’t support this project, there are going to be some really good jobs they aren’t going to be able to fill,” he said.
Tomlinson said he is excited to see this made the governor’s budget and is a priority. He expressed concern that 25 percent of the cost might have to be raised locally, which could be about $4 million of the $16.3 million project. He asked Hornback to see if there is a way to lower that to somewhere in the 15 to 20 percent range.
“I will try to get that moved up,” Hornback said.
In addition to adding area industry, Dr. Ben Kutnicki said the community college campus can help fill the need for additional healthcare providers.
Most of those attending the meeting wore name tags showing their support for funding the new JCTC campus.
Architects’ designs for the campus, located on land that was formerly part of Camp Kysoc across from General Butler State Resort Park, were unveiled Jan. 23 at the college. The first building will house offices and classrooms in a two-story wing, while the technical education programs will be housed in a second, one-story wing.
Hornback said in his initial remarks that education is getting a lot of attention this year. “That’s everybody’s focus,” he said. “The future of the Commonwealth lies in the youth.”
With new businesses coming to the state, he said, the state must have people to fill those jobs.
Beshear’s budget includes 16 projects for community colleges. Hornback said community colleges are a priority because they help people get the skills and training they need and can adapt to provide new training as it is needed.
Tomlinson said the area is facing a major problem with heroin. He cited a recent report that shows there were 108 deaths linked to the drug in the past nine months in Northern Kentucky. But he said the region is not getting the money it needs for treatment centers to help those who are addicted to heroin.
Hornback said lawmakers have filed legislation this session they hope will help battle heroin, which is a problem statewide.
“I don’t know what the answer is to it,” Hornback said. When the state deals with one drug issue, such as prescription drug abuse, then another pops up to replace it, as heroin has done.
“I understand that if you use heroin one time you are addicted,” he said.
Hornback said he believes there are not enough penalties for those who traffic drugs. He said jails with 300-plus cable channels for inmates doesn’t seem like much of a penalty for them.
“I think you have to do something to inflict pain on the people who deal drugs,” he said.
New senator for county
Saturday’s visit was the first for Hornback as the senator representing Carroll County. When he was elected four years ago to his first term, his district consisted of Shelby, Bullitt and Spencer counties.
Hornback said growth since the last census put more people in Senate District 20 than any of the others. With redistricting last summer, he lost Bullitt and Spencer counties. He picked up Carroll, Trimble, Henry and a section of Jefferson County, and kept his home county of Shelby.
Hornback told the crowd he is a farmer and a conservative who had never held public office, until he ran four years ago and won his Senate seat.
“We want to make government operate like we do in our own budget,” he said.
The budget will be the top priority this year, and as part of that he said the state will live up to the commitment lawmakers made last year to make a sizeable payment into state retirement, which is only 23 percent funded.
He said another Senate measure will allow lawmakers to review regulations that are put into place by the executive branch because they do not always match the intent of the legislation that was passed. This bill will put the issue out for a constitutional amendment that voters would decide in the fall.
Hornback said he wanted to go to Frankfort because of his concerns about how things were going. “I was always discouraged about the way government operated … It’s too political,” he said.
Hornback said he learned a lot when he got into the legislature. “It’s a lot worse than I thought.”
He said too many people in both parties are making decisions to get themselves re-elected or to protect their party or themselves.
Hornback serves on A&R, agriculture and transportation committees. He encouraged people to contact him about issues in the legislature.
He can be reached at (502) 568-8400 or by writing to 702 Capitol Ave., Annex Room 203, Frankfort, Ky. 40601.
Discussing the issues
During the Saturday, Feb. 1 legislative forum at Carroll County Courthouse, Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, discussed a variety of topics with local residents, including:
Telecom competition. Hornback said his bill to increase competition among telecommunication providers has passed the Senate and should help increase investment in Kentucky by the companies through deregulation. He believes the bill will help expand wireless 4G service to more of the rural areas of the state.
Judicial budget. Carroll County Circuit Court Clerk Laman Stark asked Hornback to look at the state’s judicial budget and provide help that would bring more money back to the local offices. Staff there has not received a raise in six years, and it took more than a month to get a new cooling system approved in Carroll County after the old one died and left them without service in warm months last year. Hornback said he believes the department has enough money budgeted, but does not spend it wisely. He pointed to a $109,000 fence that was installed at one location on the same day that the staff there had to take its first furlough day. Hornback said the problem is that many lawmakers have not wanted to tackle the problems in the judicial budget and take on the chief judge because they want to be judges someday.
Industrial hemp. Dennis Goff asked about the status on growing industrial hemp in Kentucky. Hornback said the federal farm bill that passed will now make it legal to begin industrial hemp production in Kentucky. He expects the first crop of hemp to be produced this summer, in the industry that will be heavily regulated due to its similarity to marijuana.
Voting rights and expungement. Hornback believes a strict measure allowing reinstatement of voting rights and expunging a criminal record will pass this year, in response to a question from Stark. “It’s my opinion that everybody deserves a second chance,” he said. He said he believes a bill will allow those convicted of a Class D felony to complete their sentence and parole, keep their record clear for a period of time and then be eligible for reinstatement of the right to vote. He said U.S. Sen. Rand Paul supports this measure and will be in Frankfort Feb. 17 to provide a boost toward its passage. Hornback said it has long been opposed by many Republicans who believed it would benefit Democrats because those who have been convicted of crimes are more likely to vote in their favor.
Local option sales tax. In response to a question on this issue, Hornback said he supports allowing local control over such matters where a tax can be imposed for a specific project and, once it is paid off, the tax is removed. However, he doesn’t believe it will pass this year. He said local option sales tax is complicated because only one locality can impose it. In Jefferson County, he said there are 117 cities, in addition to metro government. Determining how this will work will take additional study, he explained.