Brian Easley (Democrat)

Tax Policy

Existing tax exemptions are critical to maintaining Kentucky as the place to do business for the horse industry and growing the nearly 80,000 jobs supported by our industry. These exemptions include sales tax on veterinary and pharmaceutical services for equines, the sale of horses to out-of-state buyers and equine boarding services.

Will you continue supporting tax exemptions like these that are proven to have a positive impact on the state?

Yes, I would support tax exemptions for those issues that have a proven positive impact on the horse industry in Kentucky.

Due to a decision made by the legislature several decades ago, there is currently a confusing and burdensome division in sales tax policy on livestock feed and supplies depending on whether a farmer is purchasing for their equines or for other types of livestock. For equines, sales tax is required. For other livestock, the purchase is exempt from sales tax. KEEP has long called for tax parity for equines, which would be especially beneficial to smaller businesses. In 2017, the Kentucky legislature formally broadened the definition of livestock to include equines.

Would you support tax parity and extend the sales tax exemption on feed and supplies to all livestock, including equines?

Yes, I would support tax parity in this instance, especially during these uncertain times with covid, etc., and I believe the definition of livestock should include equines.

Land Use Policy

In a recent legislative session, legislation was proposed that would allow the state to supersede local governments’ land use ordinances. KEEP believes that land use and its economic impact is not a one-size-fits-all issue and local governments should maintain their ability to make land use policy. In counties like Fayette and Woodford, horse farm land is the lifeblood of the economy. Without local consideration and protections, that economy could evaporate overnight.

What is your position on local land use decision-making, particularly as it applies to the horse industry?

I agree that land use is not a one-size-fits-all issue and there must always be local consideration. There must always be local consideration and oversight to prevent any unnecessary overreach by the state, this principle applies to many issues.

Similarly, during the last legislative session, there was an effort to give control over siting for industrial solar facilities to a state commission, rather than local communities. This would also impact Kentucky’s limited horse farm land. Additionally, many of the issues with industrial solar facilities may not be felt until the decommissioning process decades down the road.

What is your position on whether industrial solar siting should be made at the local level?

I agree there is no reason control over solar siting cannot be a shared responsibility between local and state actors, depending on the situation. In an industrial site setting, the local community affected should have input and representation in the commission on the proposed site, or the siting should be done by the local community, as they are the ones who live there and have to deal with the effects and any construction, degradation of the scenery of horse country, etc.

Sports Wagering and Expanded Gaming

Sports wagering is now legal or is pending in all but 14 states, including in 6 states that border Kentucky. KEEP believes that legal sports wagering in Kentucky could have a positive impact on our horse industry, especially with how the legislation was previously drafted in Kentucky to include the industry. Gaming issues like sports wagering may come before the legislature.

Would you be supportive of legalized sports betting that would provide economic investment and jobs in your district?

Yes, I would be in support of regulated sports wagering and other forms of gaming.

In 2021, Kentucky saw a proliferation of “skill games” across the state. These slot-like machines are unregulated, not taxed, and pose a threat to the legal, regulated gaming options provided by charitable gaming operators, the Kentucky Lottery, and Kentucky’s horse industry.

Would you support the elimination or regulation of “skill games” in Kentucky?

I would support the regulation of “skill games” in Kentucky. If they are to remain, they must join with legal, regulated options and not threaten or diminish the horse industry, charitable gaming operators, or the Kentucky Lottery.

Job Training and Workforce Development

Over the past four years, KEEP has worked in partnership with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Foundation to create a Talent Pipeline Initiative focused on how to fill the needs of the horse industry’s demand for labor and how to bring more Kentuckians into the industry.

As Frankfort considers the importance of job training and workforce development programs, will you commit to including the horse industry in those conversations?

Yes, I believe the horse industry is just as important and culturally relevant as the bourbon industry is to Kentucky, and both the private and public spheres must work together to create initiatives to not only recruit talent and labor, as well as develop programs and pipelines – but we must also incentivize the incredible folks we already have, keep them here, and keep them engaged in the industry.

Equine Events

In 2010, the Kentucky Horse Park hosted the World Equestrian Games. This event successfully showcased the “Horse Capital of the World” on the global stage. However, in the 12 years since that event, Kentucky has not bid on hosting other large-scale events.

Would you encourage the state to bid on international events and return a spotlight to the Commonwealth?

Yes. The time is right, coming out of the pandemic, to begin initiatives to bring these events, large and small, to every corner of the Commonwealth.

About the Candidate

Please submit any additional info or comments below. Thank you for your time.

I look forward to my three young children learning to ride and discovering their own love for horses in Oldham and Trimble counties as they grow. Thanks to KEEP for giving me the chance to fill out this questionnaire. -Easley