Sarah Stalker (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?

I don’t believe the horse industry should be exempt any more than anyone else. Particularly because so many individuals who work in the horse racing sector are often times immigrants who are not being compensated fairly to begin with and struggle to met their basic needs for themselves and their families, which leads to nonprofit organizations like Backside Learning to exist. I think it’s unactable to expect the state to provide corporate welfare when we aren’t able to provide for families who are in poverty.

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 don’t think this is something I could support because there is a difference between people who own animals who exists to help with labor and are commodities that produce sellable goods and those who own horses out of a luxury.

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 don’t have enough information on this matter to give a response and will need to do more research.

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 think we have to look at the bigger picture always, right now we have some serious issues with global warming and KY has already experienced two natural disasters recently with the tornados in western Ky and the flooding in eastern KY, climate change is real for all of us, and we have to think about what ways we can mitigate further disasters.

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 am willing to consider supporting sports wagering if comparable taxes are paid back into KY and the employers provide a living wage.

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 believe everything should be regulated and taxed, if there is a loophole that currently allows these machines to avoid both of those items, I would work to close them in KY

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?

The general public does not benefit from the industry the same way programs and schools that train nurses, teachers, social workers etc. I don’t know what the ask exactly would be from Frankfort regarding job training, but I don’t agree with asking tax payers alone to cover the costs of these programs but I would be open to a conversation to see what investments the industry would be willing to make to help create that pipeline.

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 would not encourage the state to bid on international events and put up money for something that again only benefits a small amount of people. We have major social issues such as people experiencing homelessness, drug abuse, food insecurities, etc. It doesn’t feel socially responsible to spend money on events like this when we aren’t able to take care of all Kentuckians.

About the Candidate

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