Call to Order and Roll Call
Themeeting of the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee was held on Monday, July 9, 2012, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Paul Hornback, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Paul Hornback, Co-Chair; Representative Wilson Stone, Co-Chair; Senators Carroll Gibson and Vernie McGaha, Dennis Parrett; Representatives Royce W. Adams, Tom McKee, Terry Mills, and Tommy Turner.
Guests: Joel Neaveill, Bill McCloskey, Angela Blank, Biff Baker, and Brian Murphy, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy; Terry Tolan, Brigitte Ramsey, and Beth Jurek, Governor’s Office of Early Childhood.
The June 6, 2012, minutes were approved, without objection, by voice vote, upon motion made by Senator McGaha and seconded by Representative Mills.
Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy
The committee received the monthly report from Mr. Joel Neaveill, Chief of Staff, and Mr. Bill McCloskey, Director of Financial Services, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP), regarding project funding decisions made by the Agricultural Development Board (ADB) during its June meeting.
Mr. Neaveill summarized the funding allocations made under the County Agricultural Improvement, Deceased Farm Animal Disposal Assistance, and Shared-use programs from the previous months. He also recapped amendments approved for previously funded county administrators and projects. Some amendments were from county program administrators who applied to increase their county funds availability. Regarding the amendments, Mr. Neaveill told Representative Stone that entities seeking amendments are not required to reapply for funds if they have previous approval, rather file an amendment to their original plan or application.
Agricultural grant and loan approvals reviewed during the meeting included: Triple J Farm, $37,500 for an on-farm retail market in Scott County; W. Brent Woodrum, $17,500 to establish a multicounty deceased livestock composting service based in Casey County; Pulaski County Conservation District, $7,419 to buy a post driver for producer usage; and Grasshopper Distribution LLC, $250,000 for value-added produce processing and distribution in the Louisville area.
During the W. Brent Woodrum project discussion regarding county commitments, the GOAP officials answered questions from Senator Gibson and other committee members regarding why no state funds were approved for the project, particularly to help with the start-up. GOAP also explained the Woodrum project fee structure to Co-chair Hornback.
Senators Gibson and McGaha mentioned the importance adequate funds at the beginning of the regional composting service project and suggested state funds should have been awarded in addition to county funds. The board’s decision not to commit state funds to the project should be revisited in the future, according to Senator McGaha.
According to Mr. Neaveill, the board did not want to give the appearance of mandating use of the composting service.
Senator McGaha compared the Grasshoppers Distribution project and the Woodrum project. GOAP officials responded to Senator McGaha that some Indiana producers would be selling their commodities to Grasshoppers Distribution. Mr. McCloskey responded to Senator McGaha that tobacco production involvement was not a consideration in the approval of funds for Grasshoppers. Senator McGaha indicated that he believed the livestock producers participating in the Woodrum project would be “tobacco dependent.”
Responding to Representative Stone, Mr. McCloskey revealed the Grasshoppers board was reorganized and expanded recently. Some board members are growers who will supply produce to be marketed. He also told Representative Stone that the organization submitted a business plan to the board. GOAP staff responded to Representative McKee that the business plan shows Grasshoppers can pay off its loan.
Mr. Neaveill and Mr. McCloskey described to Senator Gibson the way Grasshoppers will collect produce at a site in Louisville and then sell it to consumers on-site or at other locations.
During the discussion, Senator Gibson said he would prefer more private business involvement in projects.
According to Mr. Neaveill, the board has a goal of helping create markets for farmers, and the Grasshoppers Distribution project was viewed as one that would help farmers reach markets.
During the Triple J project discussion, Mr. McCloskey described the company’s plan to buy products from local farmers and its plan to market farm products on-site and at farmer’s markets.
Regarding other projects, the GOAP officials explained the board’s denial of a Kentucky State Fair Board request for $2 million to establish an endowment for the 4-H and FFA Sale of Champions. According to Senator Hornback, the board’s pronouncement was a good decision. Co-chair Stone pointed out that while it is a good idea to have a continuing source of funds for the sale, there may be other sources of funding. Senator Gibson asked for information on how surrounding states fund similar programs.
On other issues, the GOAP officials updated the committee on the status of a protracted lawsuit involving a tobacco company’s withholding from states of its 2003 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) funding.
Office of Early Childhood Report
The committee received the annual report from the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood from Terry Tolan, Executive Director, and Brigitte Ramsey, a member of the Early Childhood Advisory Council.
The Early Childhood officials reviewed aspects of the program that receive MSA funds, including annual investments in KIDS NOW programs, the status of community early childhood councils, the evaluation of early care and education programs, the collaborations with Head Start.
Responding to Co-chair Hornback, other staff described the criteria for the early child care subsidies. Asked about parental involvement, Ms. Tolan told the committee that the agency has conducted training through advisory councils on ways to get parents involved in early childhood development.
Responding to Representative Mills, who asked about drug abuse education, Ms. Tolan indicated that a KIDS NOW program focuses on drug use intervention with pregnant women.
Asked by Representative McKee about progress being made in oral health, the officials mentioned federal grants and funds have been sought for oral health and also have looked at ways to encourage dentists to work with youngsters.
Responding to Representative Stone, the Early Childhood officials described the school readiness screenings. According to Ms. Ramsey, the readiness screenings are often the first signal of educational success. Ms. Tolan explained the screenings will eventually help educators determine which children will be reading on grade level by the third grade. Beth Jurek indicated that the readiness screenings also work in the area of assessing the health of children entering school.
Responding later to Senator McGaha, Ms. Tolan said the Department of Education has a contract with a company to develop the readiness screening tool. Ms. Tolan described the screening as a “snapshot in time.” The assessment is geared to measure curiosity, health and physical well-being, language, social and emotional development, and cognitive skills.
In reply to a question from Co-chair Stone, the officials said figures will be provided on the administrative costs of delivering the early childhood services. Ms. Tolan estimated the administrative costs are less than four percent.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at approximately 11:45 a.m.