Call to Order and Roll Call
Themeeting of the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee was held on Wednesday, September 4, 2013, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Wilson Stone, 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, Jimmy Higdon, Robin L. Webb, and Whitney Westerfield; Representatives Tom McKee, Terry Mills, and Jonathan Shell.
Guests: Roger Thomas, Joel Neaveill, Bill McCloskey, Angela Blank, and Brian Murphy, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy; Dr. Donald Miller, Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville; Dr. B. Mark Evers, Markey Cancer Center at the University of Kentucky.
The August 7, 2013, minutes were approved without objection by voice vote, upon a motion by Senator Hornback and second by Senator Westerfield.
Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Program
Dr. B. Mark Evers, Director, Markey Cancer Center at the University of Kentucky and Dr. Donald Miller, Director of the Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville Hospital, provided the annual update on the Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Program.
Dr. Evers discussed how tobacco settlement funds are used by the Markey Center, noteworthy cancer and smoking-related research, and the designation of the Markey Center as a National Cancer Institute approved center. Dr. Miller discussed the prevalence of cancer in Kentucky, the importance of the tobacco settlement funds for the Brown Cancer Center, and significant research projects.
Drs. Evers and Miller responded to questions about the coverage of smoke-free ordinances in Kentucky and the impact of those ordinances, lung cancer mortality rates, the lung cancer research program’s use of tobacco settlement funds, and research into the health effects of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).
Responding to Representative McKee, Dr. Evers said more smoke-free ordinances have been adopted in Kentucky compared to some surrounding states, but he said that Kentucky still has the highest lung cancer death rate among states. As for any correlation between the passage of the ordinances and any decline in lung cancer death rates, Dr. Evers said most smoke-free ordinances have been adopted only in the past two or three years.
In a subsequent response to a question from Senator Westerfield, Dr. Evers said he has seen declines in lung cancer incidences in cities where the smoke-free ordinances have been adopted, but declines have not been seen in rural areas. He said this could be related to second-hand smoke either in workplaces or at residences.
Dr. Evers responded to Senator Higdon that smoke-free lobbying efforts are undertaken in communities that are considering smoke-free ordinances.
Dr. Miller responded to Representative Stone that lung cancer mortality rates have declined one to one and one-half percent per year since 1990, but he noted the difficulty in correlating those declines with continuing decreases in smoking rates. When someone quits smoking, his or her chances of succumbing to lung cancer also decline, but only over a long period of time.
Dr. Miller also indicated to Representative Stone that while lung cancer rates are generally coming down, strides also are being made in treating the disease. Dr. Evers pointed out, too, that incidences of other cancers are dropping, with much credit going to screening. For example, Kentucky used to have high colorectal cancer rates, but now ranks 20th among states because of prescreening efforts.
Mr. Miller told Senator Gibson that the tobacco settlement funds are used mainly to help pay for scientific research and sponsor individual research projects. Another use includes outreach. The funds have covered a number of projects that focus on cancer prevention.
Dr. Miller provided additional details to Representative McKee about the cervical cancer vaccine being developed with the use of tobacco plants grown in the Owensboro area. The Brown Cancer Center has teamed with the Owensboro Medical Health System in the drug development project.
Responding to Senator Hornback, who said he was acquainted with someone who was conducting research on a cure for cancer, Dr. Miller pointed out that considerable research is being undertaken through curing cancer through gene manipulation.
Senator Webb told the cancer center directors that some local jails are providing e-cigarettes to inmates, but she could not find much valid research on the health effects of the devices. Dr. Evers responded that e-cigarettes are the subject of a Markey research grant. He said that current research on e-cigarettes shows using the devices may be as dangerous and unhealthy as smoking cigarettes.
Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy
Mr. Roger Thomas, Executive Director, and Mr. Bill McCloskey, Director of Financial Services, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP), testified about project funding decisions made by the Agricultural Development Board (ADB) during its August meeting. Ms. Angela Blank, Director of Public Affairs, also described the agenda for the October GOAP conference in Bowling Green, which also will include a meeting of the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee.
Mr. Thomas reviewed funding allocations for the previous month under the County Agricultural Improvement (CAIP) and Deceased Farm Animal Disposal Assistance programs. He responded to Representative Stone that one county was contracting with a company to haul dead livestock to a fertilizer plant, while another has its own disposal system.
Mr. McCloskey reviewed the latest allocations approved under the On-Farm Energy Program. Matching grants are generally used by state farmers to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy production.
Referring to the list of project awards, Senator Webb pointed out there were no energy projects east of Interstate 75. She knows there are people who would qualify and suggested there is a “breakdown somewhere.”
Chairman Stone cited the prevalence of farming west of Interstate 65.
Mr. Thomas described some future county-level meetings in northeast Kentucky in which the issue would be discussed.
GOAP officials told Senator Hornback that one recipient appearing twice on the list consisted of a farm operated by two persons who sought separate cost-share grants.
Responding to Representative McKee, Mr. Thomas said the future of the energy grant program will be determined by the board and the Governor, whose office had provided some of the energy grant moneys in the past under the federal stimulus program. Mr. Thomas said he hoped the board would consider another round of funding taking into account the challenges of getting more funds into eastern Kentucky.
Commenting on the grants, Chairman Stone compared the effect of the energy funds to the cattle handling facility Agricultural Development Fund investments, which prompted others who saw the effectiveness of the facilities to make investments on their own.
Mr. Thomas observed that the energy grants had an economic impact in areas affected because of the cost-share spending that was done.
The GOAP officials described another project approved at the recent board meeting, the Owen County 4-H Club Council, approved for $20,000 in Owen County funds for a youth cost-share livestock production program.
Following the project reviews, Ms. Blank provided details on the late October event, which will begin with an Agricultural Development Board meeting on October 29.
Documents distributed during the committee meeting are available with meeting materials in the LRC Library. The meeting adjourned at approximately 11:30 a.m.