- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Ky. governor snags Obama invitation to speech

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s high performance for health care sign-ups through its state-run website has earned Gov. Steve Beshear a White House invitation to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech.

Beshear, a strong supporter of Obama’s health-care law, will be among the guests sitting with first lady Michelle Obama when the president delivers the annual speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. Beshear said the president’s invitation came in a phone call from senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.

“It will put Kentucky in the national spotlight for being the model in the nation for successfully implementing the Affordable Care Act,” the Democratic governor said before leaving for Washington, D.C.

Beshear’s wife, Jane, also was invited and will be seated in the gallery.

Many states refused to set up their own online insurance marketplaces, a centerpiece of the health care law. Those states shifted the task to the federal website, which hit a series of embarrassing early snags in its efforts to sign up people for health coverage.

Beshear, however, embraced the opportunity for a Bluegrass state site, even as the state’s Republican U.S. senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, pressed for the health-care law’s repeal.

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McConnell: Farm Bill to promote hemp revival

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Hemp production may be on the verge of a comeback in Kentucky, where the non-potent cousin of marijuana once thrived.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the final version of the federal Farm Bill will allow limited hemp cultivation in pilot programs in states that permit the production.

Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill last year to allow industrial hemp’s reintroduction but only if the federal government lifts its ban.

McConnell says the Farm Bill language he secured will allow state agriculture departments to oversee pilot hemp projects. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has promoted the crop, which can be turned into products ranging from paper to cosmetics.

Hemp was banned decades ago when the government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp has a negligible content of the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

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