Take Action: The Primary Registration Deadline is Almost Here!

Take Action: The Primary Registration Deadline is Almost Here!

As the primaries approach, Friends of Limestone hopes to help equip young voters with all the tools they need to take action in this important step in our state’s electoral process. This is the first of several posts coming to help ensure you’re ready for the primaries!

By the time the filing deadline for running in the 2018 elections passed, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced an overall surge in the amount of candidates. “Nearly every race has got a challenger,” Grimes told the press. “Few incumbents are going without primaries.”

This year voters will see a record 86 women running for a seat in Frankfort, as well as over fifty educators.

Since the ballots were finalized on January 30th, these candidates have been crisscrossing the counties of the Commonwealth in the hopes of convincing us they deserve to be our leaders.

Their first tests come on May 22nd in their party primaries and your final chance to register or update your registration is this coming Monday April 23rd. 

Not registered or need to add your new address? That’s a problem. Only 12.6 percent of voters aged 17-33 voted in the 2016 primaries, and this year’s elections offer a great opportunity for young people to make an impact in our state government.

Solving this problem is easy though, thanks to Kentucky’s online voter registration.

Step 1. Visit the Kentucky online voter registration site. 

Step 2. Ensure your eligibility by answer these questions from the state.

Capture

Step 3. Enter your social security number and date of birth.

Step 4. You’ll then be asked to enter your information if you’ve never registered or verify if you’ve previously registered.

Step 5. Now you must select a political party. You can only vote in the primary of the party you register for in Kentucky.

Step 6. Next you’ll be asked for your current address.

Step 7. Take one last look to verify your information. Remember if your info is incorrect it could prevent you from voting in the primary.

Congrats! You’re ready to vote next month!

Advertisements
From Snob to Stave (and Thief)

From Snob to Stave (and Thief)

Well guys, I am officially a bourbon snob! Not really, but that’s everyone probably thinks. Last month with some friends I took the first step in getting my Stave and Thief Certification!  What does this mean? Do I get anything cool? Can anyone do it? I am going to answer all of these questions and tell you about my experience, what it means to me, and what I plan to do from here.

The Stave and Thief Society course was originally set up for hospitality businesses in 2014 to help educate their staff, as bourbon tourism was becoming all the rage.  This way the staff had more than basic knowledge of bourbon and could help guide their customers on what brands, mash bills, etc. would be best for their palette. Now it is offered as a learning course for anyone that is interested. I was able to take the basic certification with the Whisky Chicks which included a 3 hour class, learning the history of bourbon, the difference between all whiskies, how to read a label, the Kentucky heritage, and what goes into building a flight.  I highly suggest taking a class instead of doing the learn from home – it really helped me listen and learn to other bourbon lovers backgrounds, what they like, and how they got into it. The most fun thing about bourbon is who you share it with! In my class, there were all levels, one couple just started drinking bourbon within the past few months, some others were brought up by their dads being into bourbon and knowing the history like the back of their hand, and others (like me) knew a good amount but still could learn a lot more!

After all the learning, then it was time to drink! We were able to try to classics such as Basil Hayden & Larceny and then I was able to try some bourbon from New York and Indiana, which is very different and interesting to try. (Kentucky is still my favorite though!)  From there we learned to make our flights, what goes into the process, and how to line them up. I can’t tell you all the secrets but it is very interesting once you start looking at different restaurant flight offers on their thought process behind it.

Test time! Once you finish the class you have to take an online test of multiple choice questions and create your own flight. Now the waiting game, it took about a week for me to get my test results back and say that I passed!! My next step is to take the executive course, which is an all day training including learning the different smells, taste, and more in depth in the bourbon making process. If you are interested in bourbon and taking your hobby / passion to the next level, I highly recommend this course. Stay tuned for my next step in bourbon love!

A Kentucky Legislative Session Update

A Kentucky Legislative Session Update

By: Brandon McReynolds, Ph.D, Friends of Limestone Founder

Hey Friends!

We are now a little over halfway through the 2018 Kentucky Regular Legislative Session (the legislature only has 59 legislative days this year), which provides an opportunity to check-in on the bills connected to Friends of Limestone’s mission.

Over the past week, our team reviewed all the proposed legislation from this session. As of publication, over 150 bills have been filed in the Senate and close to 400 in the House. These bills cover a variety of policy areas connected to limestone and the industries that exist in Kentucky because of limestone. Below we listed several of the bills that stand out to us.

We have provided a brief description of each piece of legislation along with why the legislation is of importance to Friends of Limestone. We also recommend checking out the Legislative Research Commission’s website where you can see the bills and resolutions your representatives have sponsored! Also, be on the lookout for a separate blog post about Kentucky’s pension problem, and how it affects us all as Friends of Limestone.

House Bills:

HB 26- Natural resource severance and processing tax

Currently: in House to Appropriations and Revenue

  • Amends state law to define the “processing” of limestone to include the act of loading and unloading
  • Amends state law to allow for a tax credit for identical severance or processing tax paid in another state or political subdivision.

FOL Perspective: the mining and processing of limestone as a natural resource is one use of Kentucky’s large limestone deposit. Legislation focused on the continued mining of limestone needs to consider the environmental, social, and economic impacts of mining each time legislation such as this is proposed.

HB 159- Increase sales tax on alcohol

Currently: in House to Licensing, Occupations, and Admin Regs

  • Amends state law to increase the whole sales tax rate for beer, wine, and distilled spirits to 14 percent
  • Forbids local governments from imposing a regulatory fee on the sale of alcoholic beverages
  • Amends state law to establish a $100 annual transporters license fee
  • Amends state law to require that every distiller, rectifier, winery, and nonresident wholesaler make its brands available to any wholesaler and not grant the distributing rights of any particular brand to only one wholesaler exclusively
  • Amends state law to require that alcohol wholesalers make deliveries to retailers on a timely basis and no later than one week after the order date
  • Amends state law to require that alcohol distributors make deliveries to retailers on a timely basis and no later than one week after the order date
  • Amends state law to permit a quota retail package licensee or a nonquota malt beverage package licensee to transport alcoholic beverages between stores of common ownership if the licensee derives not less than 90 percent of his or her cash receipts from the sale of alcohol and pays the annual license fee

FOL Perspective: The sell of alcohol is highly regulated and taxed in Kentucky. As Kaitlyn pointed out in her recent blog, taxes incurred throughout the process make up a substantial cost that is passed onto consumers. This law adds further taxes and regulation.

HB 267- All wet counties through a local option election to approve license fee

Currently: in House to Licensing, Occupations, and Admin Regs

  • Amends state law to allow all wet cities and counties containing wet cities through a local option election to impose a regulatory license fee on the sale of alcoholic beverages

HB 41, 42, and 229– All deal with gambling

FOL’s mission does not directly connect to the issue of legalized casino gambling. However, due to the on-going discussion around casino gambling and Kentucky’s horse industry we wanted to make people aware of these pieces of legislation.

 

Senate Bills

SB 22- Sports wagering

Currently: In Senate to Appropriations and Revenue

  • Requires Kentucky Horseracing Commission to institute a sports wagering system
  • Vest control of sports wagering with the commission
  • Establishes a 20% tax on the total amount wagered at sports wagering facilities

FOL Perspective: The equine industry plays a substantial role in the Kentucky economy.  Legislators and voters need to understand the economic and social impacts of expanded sports gambling along with how legislation such as this will support the long-term growth of Kentuck’s equine industry.

SB 56- Kentucky Horse Racing Commission

Currently: Has passed in the Senate, and is in the House to Licensing, Occupations, and Admin Regs

  • Amends state law to make ex officio members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission nonvoting members.

SB 110- Alcohol license quotas

Currently: In Senate, passed out of committee, seven-floor amendments were added, waiting for second reading

  • Codify the quota system for alcoholic beverages for wet counties and cities
  • Creates new process for verifying quota numbers
  • Create a process to allow for a city or county to petition for a quota increase

Various amendments have been added and range from eliminating the quota system to shifting how the system is managed.

FOL Perspective: As legislators debate the pros and cons of Kentucky’s quota system, FOL believes that they should work to give agency and power to counties and cities across the state.

SB 129- Reorganize energy and environmental cabinet

Currently: In Senate to Natural Resources & Energy

  • Amends over 25 state statutes regarding the Energy and Environmental Cabinet
  • Changes names of various portions of the Energy and Environmental Cabinet
  • Amends state law regarding responsibility for who can take legal action regarding various programs

FOL Perspective: Every issue before the legislature is an environmental issue, a reorganization of  Energy and Environmental Cabinet needs to ensure the environmental justice is a part of the policy process both inside and outside of the cabinet.

SB111- Breeder’s Cup exemption

Currently: In Senate to Appropriations and Revenue

  • Amends state law to make permanent the Breeder’s Cup exemption relating to wagering
Environmental Justice 499: Why It Matters to You

Environmental Justice 499: Why It Matters to You

Welcome back!

If you have followed my environmental blogs for the past couple of months, you will know we have been talking about Environmental Justice.  If you’re new and this is your first Environmental Justice blog STOP! GO BACK!  You are missing out!  Click here to find the previous blogs.  For those who have stuck with me during this discussion, think of this as a capstone; a finale to Environmental Justice (hence the 499…horrible joke).  Now, this does not mean all four blogs can tell you everything.  Heck, scholars and activists have studied this problem for the past 50 years, and there is still so much more to know and understand.  However, it is the conclusion for our Environmental Justice discussion, for now.  We may venture into grad school one day…Environmental Justice 600, 700, 800?

This month I want to bring it home by talking about why Environmental Justice matters to you.  Everyone is affected by an unhealthy environment; some populations just get it worse than others.  I could go on for hours on this subject, but for the sake of keeping it to the point I will limit its discussion to climate change.

Climate Change

Climate Change is the mother of all environmental issues.  It is the historical product of environmental dislocation.  In other words, it is the manifestation of all our problems.  Maybe I should write a blog on climate change?  For now, climate change poses challenges for everyone because, simply, it will affect….EVERYONE! What does this mean in respect to Environmental Justice? Well, everything.  First, marginalized populations are and will experience the effects of climate change worse.  Second, these populations host the stressors that is causing climate change.  Take coal mining for example.  Right now, Appalachians host this stressor and it is a huge contributor to climate change.  This will impact you.  How, you ask?

  • Shortage of clean water
  • Increase of allergies
  • Flooding
  • Less snow
  • Sea level rise
  • Less rain
  • Food shortages
  • Harsher weather
  • Wildfires
  • Increase of health problems
  • Less global ice

These problems will only get worse. Alongside the impacts of climate change, environmental justice matters to you because it is an ethical issue.  It is wrong.  Folks like Martin County do not deserve cloudy, brown, smelly water.  No one does.  How many of you remember NIMBY (‘not in my backyard) from the first blog? I once read an EJ researcher say, BANANA.  BANANA stands for “build absolutely nothing, anywhere, near anybody”.  Shouldn’t that be the goal?

Let’s all BANANA!

Come back to next month where I will be talking about environmental policy in Kentucky.

Until next time,

Adam

FOL visits Four Roses

FOL visits Four Roses

New Year – New Bourbon Tour

Hey there bourbon lovers!! I hope everyone celebrated Valentine’s Day with a little pour of their favorite drink and some roses, four roses perhaps!  Speaking of Four Roses, the Friends of Limestone squad kicked off the new year with a tour down in Lawrenceburg, KY learning all about the 10 different recipes that make up Four Roses. Currently their distillery is being remodeled and hopes to open up later this spring, it was still a good time but I will definitely be making the trip back once it is back in production!

Since the distillery is shut down, we start off the tour with a video on where Four Roses started and what makes it unique compared to all the other bourbons. Four Roses has been around for a long time, 1860 in fact! Paul Jones  who was the original owner bought the current property in 1910 and story has it that he named this wonderful bourbon after a girl who showed up to a dance wearing a corsage with four red roses. Four Roses was also one of six distilleries that were allowed to sell during the prohibition for medical reasons, you can still see some of the medical bottles that were used. Pretty neat!  Four Roses has been through a lot of rise & fall throughout the past century and currently it is rising back to the top!

That’s enough history for now, let’s talk about what goes into the bottle!  Like mentioned earlier there are 10 unique recipes put together by hand from their Master Distiller, Brent Elliott. The yellow label includes all 10 recipes, aged for 6.5 years and finished at 80 proof.  The small batch is pulled from 20 barrels and finished at 90 proof. Then the single barrel has only 1 recipe and 1 barrel finished at 100 proof after aging for 7.5 years.  All barrels are checked at 5.5 years then marked on if they will be a yellow label or move on to a small batch or single barrel.   Here is the breakdown of the 10 recipes .. it starts out with two different mash bills, mash bill E is made up of 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley. Mash bill B is 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley.  From there, they pick from 5 different yeast strains V for a light fruity flavor, K for a spice, O for a rich fruit, Q for a floral, and F for herbal notes. Below is a list of the 10 different recipes for you to use when you are buying your next Four Roses bottle to know what you are getting out of that bottle. O stands for that it was made in Lawrenceburg, E or B for the mash bill, S for straight whisky, and V/K/O/Q/F for your yeast strain.

So if you have ever bought a bottle or drink of Four Roses and didn’t know if it was for you, try it out again! Maybe you just weren’t a fan of that yeast. Or you can be a little crazy like me and collect all 10 recipes – did someone say bourbon tasting?!

Environmental Justice: The Story of Martin County, Kentucky

Environmental Justice: The Story of Martin County, Kentucky

Hey, everyone!

How has everyone’s 2018 been so far? Our environment continues to be a pressing importance in my life and hopefully you are making it one in yours!

That being said, let’s keep talking about Environmental Justice in Appalachia!

Last month, I mentioned that this blog would be dedicated to a specific case example. One that is personal to me and has been making some news recently, is Martin County, Kentucky.

The story of Martin County is close to me because I have spent the past year studying the environmental injustices of this county for my dissertation research. What have I been doing and what’s going on with Martin County? First let’s get a baseline of the area.

Martin County is:

  • A Central Appalachian county of Kentucky that borders West Virginia.
  • Contains around 12,000 individuals.
  • Predominantly white (94 percent of the population).
  • The 115th poorest county in Kentucky.
    • The medium household income is around $25,000
    • 35 percent fall below the poverty level.
  • Where the War on Poverty was born.
  • A coal mining community.

Since coal mining is predominant in Martin County, their risk to environmental stressors is increased. Unfortunately this risk increased too far and in the fall of 2000 a disaster struck the county. One of the coal slurry impoundments broke, releasing over 300 million gallons of slurry in two hollows of Martin County: Coldwater and Wolf Creek.

What is “coal slurry?” It is the stuff that comes off coal after it’s washed. “Washed”? Why is coal being washed? Is it dirty? Well…yes! Before it is burned for energy purposes, it must be cleaned to rid various impurities, like soil and rock. The byproduct that comes off during this process is called “slurry” and it is housed in large dams call impoundments, like the one over Martin County.

Appalachian writer, Harry Caudill once said impoundments are “like a pool of gravy in a mound of mashed potato”. I really love that analogy. I feel like it gives a vivid picture of what these things are. It also gives you a good idea of what it looked like seeping into the community. The black gravy mixture contaminated local creeks, water sources, soil and killed aquatic life. For such a small community, tucked in the Appalachian Mountains, you might not think this was a big deal, but it was actually the worst environmental disaster in the southeast, exceeding the amount released from the Exxon Valdeez Oil Spill!

It was my goal to study the recovery of this disaster for my dissertation, so I started interviewing the people impacted. I soon learned that there is another environmental issue plaguing the county.  In a nutshell, their infrastructure is poor.

I found that:

  • Water lines were breaking, allowing contaminants to enter into the water source.
  • There is an average of 60 percent water loss across the county.
  • Their water smells, is discolored, and is reported to burn their skin.
  • No one drinks the water! Their source comes from bottled water.
  • People are organizing and trying to get a new water source for their community.
  • People are concerned over their health and community future.

You will probably hear more about Martin County and their struggles in the coming weeks and months as it is gaining more media attention day after day! I am not going into the details of why individuals believe their water system is inadequate; you will have to read my dissertation for that!

Regardless of the reason, this county experiences environmental stressors. It is truly unjust. The story of Martin County is a reminder that environmental stressors are not equally shared across populations!

Until next time,

Adam

Explaining Kentucky’s Three Tier Alcohol System

Explaining Kentucky’s Three Tier Alcohol System

Happy New Year Friends!

This month I am letting you in on a not-so-known secret.

On December 5th, 1933, Kentucky’s liquor laws were written to make it pretty hard to buy any alcohol. The end of Prohibition meant that every state had to develop their own rules on selling liquor, and Kentucky’s are pretty unique.

Let me break it down to each level and how that affects you & I buying bourbon!

The Three Tier System

Tier 1 Suppliers / Producers

This tier includes anyone who makes the alcohol. They include Beam Inc, Brown-Forman, and any other liquor company you’re familiar with.

Tier 2 – Distributors / Wholesalers

This is where the laws written at end of prohibition take over. Legislators ruled that distributors must receive alcohol from the supplier and deliver it to your local liquor store, effectively making them a middle man. In most states, the distributor is a privately owned company separate from the producer or supplier, (one of the biggest distributors in Kentucky is Southern Wine & Spirits) but in some states the actual state itself buys the alcohol.

Tier 3 – Retailers

This includes anywhere you can buy liquor, from your corner store to the big name liquor stores.

Why does this matter?

This system prevents producers from selling directly to retailers which means a producer and/or the retailer can not play favorites, preventing the large producers from buying up liquor stores or bars to only sell their brands. The distributor must act like a independent unbiased middle man. The purpose of this system was to promote fair market practices, for the most part it has worked!

Now what if you try to find your favorite bourbon in another state but that local store doesn’t have it?  This is because of the biggest downside of the system, producers large or small have to make deals with a distributor in each state! If you are not one of those large producers previously mentioned it is very hard to get your brand to all 50 states. That makes it difficult to find your favorite small brand bottle in a faraway place.

How does this affect the way we buy bourbon? At each of these levels the bourbon is taxed. Before the bottle even hits the shelves, it has been taxed for every year in the barrel by the local and state government! After that the distributors are taxed by the state, then as the final sales tax that we pay with each drink at a bar or bottle from Kroger. Last year that was $825 million in taxes per the Kentucky Distillers Association. All in all nearly 60 percent of every bottle of liquor in Kentucky goes to taxes or fees, with seven different taxes on Bourbon – including a tax on barrels each and one for every year it ages.


So next time you go in to buy your bourbon of choice, that bottle went through a lot more than just the normal aging process! If you want to learn more about the three tier system or liquor laws in Kentucky, check out this site!  Cheers!