Beshear Advocates For Sports Betting, Medical Marijuana In 2021

Dec 17, 2020

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear laid out priorities he'd like to see the state legislature take up in 2021, but many items are likely to be a tough sell in a Republican-dominated General Assembly.

Credit AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

The Democrat told the Kentucky Chamber Wednesday that lawmakers should boost revenue by reviving sports betting legislation, which has failed to gain traction in prevous sessions, and rescuing Supreme Court-rejected gaming machines that are modeled on historical horse races.

"Horse racing is not only a vital revenue source for the state," Beshear said. "(It's) an important part of who we are, an important part of the commonwealth culturally."

The governor also listed coronavirus relief, infrastructure needs, and legalizing medical marijuana in his virtual address to business leaders. A bill legalizing medicinal cannabis passed the Kentucky House in 2020, but would need to win over a more conservative chamber this year before heading to a still skeptical Senate.

"If medical marijuana comes out of the House, we will take the same approach toward it as we did last year," said Senate President Roberts, who repeated his concerns about carcinogens in inhaled marijuana and impacts on youth brain development.

Republicans, who made historic gains in this year's election, outlined an agenda that includes limiting the governor's emergency executive powers and passing liability protections for businesses. Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said his party's new majorities should narrow their focus in this year's short session.

"We are a conservative governing body and we should act like it," he said. "And that means we shouldn't pass a thousand bills, I'm exaggerating now, to try to deal with every little problem that people think government ought to solve."

Lawmakers return to Frankfort January 5th.