- Associated Press - Saturday, August 16, 2014
Kentucky, feds reach agreement on hemp imports

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky agriculture officials and the federal government have finalized an agreement on how industrial hemp seeds may be imported into the state.

After reaching the deal Friday, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has agreed to drop a lawsuit filed in May over acquiring the seeds.

Under the agreement, the department will file an application with the federal government for a permit to import hemp seeds, and the federal government will process the Kentucky’s application quickly. The federal government also agrees that the process established by the state will control the cultivation and marketing of hemp.

The department filed suit in May against several government agencies after seeds ticketed for Kentucky were held by customs in Louisville. The seeds were released in late May and distributed to universities and private farmers.

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Inmate religious ceremonies lawsuit gets new look

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Three Kentucky death row inmates should get another chance to show they have the right to a sweat lodge, powwow and traditional foods to conduct Native American religious ceremonies behind bars at the prison, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ordered part of a lawsuit brought by six-time convicted killer Robert Foley, two-time convicted killer Roger Dale Epperson and Vincent Stopher, condemned for the death of a sheriff’s deputy in Jefferson County, reinstated after concluding that state officials failed to show compelling reasons for denying the requests.

The appeals court also turned away a related bid by two condemned inmates to get monetary damages from prison officials for changing the rules on visits by pastors to those on death row.

U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell ruled in 2013 that the prison’s rejection of the requests were necessary for the security of inmates and others.

The case put forth the questions of whether inmates should have access to several Native American traditions for a faith-based once-a-year powwow and if they should be able to collect money damages from prison officials.

“The answers … are yes and no,” Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote for the three-judge panel.

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Kentucky, feds reach agreement on hemp imports

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky agriculture officials and the federal government have finalized an agreement on how industrial hemp seeds may be imported into the state.

After reaching the deal Friday, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has agreed to drop a lawsuit filed in May over acquiring the seeds.

Under the agreement, the department will file an application with the federal government for a permit to import hemp seeds, and the federal government will process the Kentucky’s application quickly. The federal government also agrees that the process established by the state will control the cultivation and marketing of hemp.

The department filed suit in May against several government agencies after seeds ticketed for Kentucky were held by customs in Louisville. The seeds were released in late May and distributed to universities and private farmers.

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Clinton urges Southern states to seek cooperation

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Former President Bill Clinton urged Southern governors to seek cooperation as they try to expand research and development in the region, praising Kentucky and Arkansas for their success cutting the number of uninsured.

Speaking to the Southern Governors’ Association at the group’s annual meeting in Little Rock, the former Arkansas governor said that states that find ways to network and cooperate will have the most success. The group is focusing on promoting and expanding research and development in the South.

“We are living at a breathtaking moment of possibility, and if we blow it, shame on us,” Clinton said. “There are a lot of people who know more about various details of their (research and development) strategy, but I know this: Cooperation works, networking works, empowering people works.”

Clinton praised his home state and Kentucky for their success in expanding coverage through the federal health care overhaul, a law that has been unpopular in many Republican-leaning states throughout the region. Arkansas last year approved a compromise plan to use federal Medicaid money to purchase private insurance for low-income residents, and hundreds of thousands have enrolled for coverage through the state-run insurance marketplace Kentucky set up under the law.

The two states had the highest drop in the number of uninsured residents in a poll released by Gallup earlier this month. Arkansas saw a drop of about 10 percentage points in its share of uninsured residents, from 22.5 percent in 2013, to 12.4 percent by the middle of this year. Kentucky experienced a drop of nearly 9 percentage points, from 20.4 percent of its residents uninsured in 2013, to 11.9 percent.

Clinton praised both states’ approaches as “practical solutions to a genuine challenge.”

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