The members of the General Assembly have returned to Frankfort and the 2020 Regular Session is in full swing. We started off the week by taking care of necessary administrative duties such as filing bills and making some changes to committee assignments. I am pleased to share that my committee assignments remain the same. I serve as the Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, and I look forward to continuing to work on the State Government Committee and Small Business and Information Technology Committee.

The leadership teams in both the House and Senate have begun laying out the issues they wish to take up as the session progresses. First, I cannot stress enough that the top priority for the House is crafting the biennial budget. We will spend a considerable amount of time meeting with stakeholders, and ensuring that the needs of every level of state government are addressed. Our state has many needs, including funding our state pension obligations, and addressing the skyrocketing costs associated with incarceration. We have a challenging road ahead, but I know that my colleagues in the House Majority Caucus and I are in agreement that we want to be good stewards of your taxpayer dollars. Rest assured, we will do our best to ensure that the needs of the families and people across the Commonwealth are met.

My personal priority as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee will be discussing policy that benefits our farmers and agricultural community. In our first meeting, we will discuss House Bill 236, which deals with hemp regulations. If enacted, the bill would better align state hemp regulations with federal guidelines. We will also discuss House Bill 238, which would allow for a nationwide search when attempting to fill the position of State Veterinarian. These are commonsense measures that I look forward to discussing with my colleagues next week.

I would also like to address some of the recent headlines regarding possible gun restriction legislation that has been filed for this session. On the first day back in the House Chambers there was a large gathering of Kentuckians outside the Capitol who assembled in support of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. They came to the Capitol in response to legislation filed that would infringe upon those rights. I appreciated seeing this Second Amendment Rally, and to connect with citizens across the Commonwealth who showed up to oppose the recent onslaught of anti-gun legislation.

I am proud of their willingness to take a stand on this very critical issue. Let me reassure you, I will do everything I can as your representation in Frankfort to stop any such anti-gun laws from moving forward in the House. With supermajorities in both the Senate and House, I highly doubt that any legislation filed that would scale back the right to own or operate firearms would be considered

As we continue to progress in the weeks ahead, I am sure the conversation will shift and change around the ideas that are presented. I will continue to keep you updated as the session moves forward, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these bills and others that come before the General Assembly for consideration.

I can be reached during the week from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. through the toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181. You can also contact me via e-mail at Richard.Heath@lrc.ky.gov. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at legislature.ky.gov and you can also follow me on my Facebook page, Richard Heath 2nd District State Representative.