Daniel Fister (Republican)

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?

As a life long farmer, I understand the impact that sales tax can have on what is most often a very narrow profit margin to start with. I am in favor of keeping the existing exemptions as they are and carefully looking at the possibility of making some of the other “inputs” tax exempt as well. The roll of agriculture in Kentucky is huge and we need insure that it remains viable, especially for the small farms that make up the majority of the industry.

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?

I think I understand the lines that were being drawn years ago when much of the tax exemption legislation was being written, but I don’t know that it applies today. Much of the agriculture industry has become “intermingled” if you will and many of those lines don’t still exist. I don’t see a reason that you should pay tax on the feed you buy for your horse and not pay it on what you feed your cow. Yes, I would be open to looking at ways to make the code more uniform on the farm.

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’m not real sure what legislation this question is referring to, but I do agree in principle that “land use should be a local decision.” Fayette and Woodford (I have represented both) have gone to great lengths to protect the horse industry and agriculture in general through programs that restrict land use and in some cases purchase the development rights to insure the land is protected. I fully support what they have done. On the other hand there are counties that have no restrictions on use or any planning & zoning laws and I am concerned by that. There have been cases were a lack of regulation at the local level has been detrimental to agriculture, the land, and to the public in general. That concerns me.

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?

As I mentioned in the last question, there are some counties that don’t regulate land use at all, including “solar farms.” I sit on the House Agriculture Committee and while I can see the benefits of solar energy, I am very concerned over what has been presented to us and what is happening when there is no local control in place. Who is going to do the cleanup at the end, will the land be able to be returned to production, and what are we going to do with the components of these “farms” that can’t currently be recycled? While I respect the role of local authorities on this issue, I think safe guards need to be in place in their absence.

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?

I don’t normally commit to support legislation that hasn’t been written yet, but in the 2022 Session, Representative Koenig sponsored HB606 that made provisions of sports wagering in Kentucky and “guard rails” for it’s operation. I supported and voted for HB606. I believe that economic development and job creation is the future of Kentucky.

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 do have a problem with what is becoming know as “Gray Machines” that claim to be “skill games.” I voted for Representative Timoney’s HB608 in the last Session because of it’s attempt to bring them inline with the law. I don’t believe we can regulate some and allow others to ignore the law. We have to keep the “playing field” level to protect the industry and the consumer.

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?

In a word, yes. I have not only used my position on the House Small Business and Information Technology Committee to help with job training and workforce development programs, I have used my position on the House Agriculture Committee to insure that equine programs are included as well. The future of Kentucky and the horse industry both rest in a well educated and well trained workforce. I have worked to make our education system better and to fund and develop programs such as the equine programs offered by Bluegrass Community and Technical College and the University of Kentucky.

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?

I believe Kentucky has failed in developing it’s Tourism Industry in many ways. The fact they we have not followed up on such a great event and continued developing other such events on it’s “coat tails” was a mistake. In addition to my position on the Ag and Small Business Committees, I also sit on the House Committee on Tourism and have worked to resurrect our Tourism industry post Covid, and to expand it as well. I feel very strongly that we need to “market and sell” Kentucky to the world.

About the Candidate

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

I want to close by thanking the members of KEEP for your help and support during my first term in office. I truly enjoyed getting to know some of you as we moved SB120 (Historic Horse Racing) through to it’s passage and I appreciate what you do for Kentucky and the equine industry.