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U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Lewis County), only a few weeks into his role of representing District 4, including Shelby County, didn’t mince words Thursday night when he gave local Republicans his take on idea of legalizing hemp.
“Why, you’d have to have a joint the size of a telephone pole to get high on hemp,” Massie told members of the Shelby County Republican Party, drawing chucks from a crowd of about 50 at the Shelbyville Municipal Water Company building.
But it’s no laughing matter that hemp is a legal crop in 30 countries and that Kentucky has to import the substance for use in the state, he said.
“Industrial hemp is a sustainable crop and could be great economically for farmers in Kentucky,” said Massie, who is co-sponsoring a bill, H.R. 1831, known as the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would require the federal government to respect state laws allowing industrial hemp to be grown.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and state Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville), chairman of the Senate’s Agriculture Committee, also are backers of legalizing the crop.
Massie, who replaced retired U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis in District 4 when he won election November and became Shelby’s rep when the county moved to that district in January, didn’t limit his remarks to hemp, touching on where he stands on issues such as the “fiscal cliff” deal and the Hurricane Sandy bill, both of which he voted against, but he saved most of his oral ammo for the discussions about gun control.
When it comes to President Barack Obama’s proposal to tighten loopholes in gun laws, Massie stressed that he intends to work to protect the rights of gun owners.
“I have received hundreds of letters and phone calls from people who want me to protect their right to bear arms,” he said.
“The Second Amendment is not about duck hunting or target shooting; it’s about your right to self defense,” he said.
As a 10-year holder of a conceal-and-carry permit who said he has handled guns since he was
12 years old when he received a .410 shotgun, Massie said he thinks Obama’s stance on gun control “will go nowhere.”
“There are more pro-gun people in this country than people realize,” he said. “Nothing’s going to pass through the House. It could come up in the Senate, and if it does, it will come up and bite them.”
Massie, who in early January proposed a repeal of the federal Gun Free School Zones Act, saying that measure only prevents people from being to able to protect themselves from criminals, scoffed at forms that people have to fill out at places like doctor’s offices and the like that ask if they keep guns in the house.
“I think the next time I see that question, I’m going to say, ‘No, I don’t have any guns in my house. I brought them with me,’” he said as the audience laughed.
Massie also talked about committees on which he is serving, such as Transportation and Infrastructure, Oversight and Government Reform and Science, Space and Technology.
Massie didn’t have too much to say about the “fiscal cliff” agreement. except to say that it wasn’t supposed to raise taxes, but it did.
“They said it wouldn’t raise taxes unless you make over four-hundred thousand dollars, but everybody who has a got a paycheck this year knows better than that,” he said.
“We [Republicans] have to be willing to be the bad guy. We have to be willing to hold the line on the debt ceiling at some point. The problem is, in any negotiation, if they already know you’re going to cave, then you’re going to end up doing what they want.”
Local reps speak
A couple of other Republican lawmakers also spoke to the crowd while waiting for Massie, who had gone to the wrong location, due to a miscommunication.
State Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) said that Republicans picked up a few seats, up to 45 from 41, to the Democrat’s 55 seats, in the Kentucky House.
“We didn’t reach our goal of taking the house, but we made progress,” he said.
Montell also touched briefly on the topic of charter schools, something he has long championed, saying the topic has some support in the Senate but needs backing in the House also.
“We will continue to work to bring charter schools to Kentucky,” he said.
Hornback spoke about future growth and the “AT&T bill” and industrial hemp bill he is sponsoring.
Republican Magistrate Michael Riggs, who lives in Simpsonville, talked about a recent county ordinance that would, if passed, impose fines on top of any state penalties to people who allow underage people to drink alcohol at parties held on private property.
“The purpose is just to make parents responsible for what’s going on,” he said.