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Dog Fighting, Zip Line Bills Advance in Frankfort

A legislative panel approved a measure on Tuesday that would amend Kentucky’ dog-fighting law to also make it illegal to promote the practice.

Senate Bill 14, as amended in the state Senate Agriculture Committee, would make the owning, possessing, breeding, training, selling or transferring of dogs intended for use in dog fighting a felony punishable by one year to five years in prison.

State Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) introduced the legislation. He said Kentucky is the only state without a similar provision in their animal cruelty laws.

Doug Morgan of the Kentucky Houndsmen Association said his group supported the bill.

“There is an old saying among coon hunters, ‘A hound dog knows the difference between being kicked and stumbled over,” he said. “I honestly believe there is nothing in this (amendment) that will come back and kick Kentucky Houndsmen. We have never advocated the fighting of dogs and never will.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown), who represents southern Kenton County, said legislators have worked for a year on the bill.“I know there has been a lot of sweat equity put into this bill,” he said. “I think this is a reasonable compromise.”

Sen. Robin Webb (D-Grayson) cast a “pass” vote in committee but emphasized she supported the intent of SB 14.

“There is nobody that supports dog fighting in this General Assembly … ,” said Webb, adding she wanted to further analyze the language in the bill.

SB 14 now goes to the full Senate for further consideration.

Zip Line bill passes House

Recreational zip lines would be regulated by the state under a bill that has passed the House and is on its way to the state Senate.

House Bill 38, sponsored by Rep. Jeffery Donohue (D-Fairdale) and Rep. Tom Riner (D-Louisville) passed the House by a vote of 90-1. The bill would require the state to set standards for the use and operation of aerial recreational facilities like outdoor zip line and canopy tours should it become law.

Donohue said he decided to file HB 38 when a zip line began operating in his district.

“The industry has started to self-regulate, but it welcomes this to have guidelines for the whole state of Kentucky,” said Donohue.

Donohue said the legislation has been worked out with input from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, which would set the standards and regulate zip lines and related forms of entertainment. The department could rely on industry standards and third-party inspections when setting requirements, and could set reasonable fees to help administer those requirements, according to the bill.  

Those who violate the requirements would be subject to civil penalties of up to $10,000, the bill states, will paid penalties placed in an “aerial recreational facilities administration fund.” The fund would be established under HB 38 to pay for regulatory enforcement. 

Rep. Wilson Stone (D-Scottsville) supported the bill, telling the House that HB 38 is needed as so-called “adventure tourism” grows across the state.

Zip lines “are a fun way to get your blood flowing, as they say, but certainly would be fraught with danger if inappropriately rigged and if not constantly maintained. So I applaud (the bill) to see that they are just that—that they are inspected and that they are kept in a way that will be safe for the folks who come and spend their money,” said Stone.

From the Legislative Research Committee

Photo: Rep. Diane St. Onge (R-Lakeside Park), left, confers with Rep. Denver Butler (R-Louisville) in the Kentucky House of Representatives on Tuesday (LRC)