Comer cheers bipartisan action on private-sector innovation
By Ted Sloan

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer Wednesday applauded the introduction of legislation in the Kentucky Senate that would establish benefit corporations in Kentucky.

Senate Bill 9 is sponsored by Sen. Joe Bowen of Owensboro and co-sponsored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown. Its designation as Senate Bill 9 indicates that it is a top 10 priority of the Senate majority.

"If we empower private-sector business leaders to tackle public problems, I think we will see a new wave of creativity and imagination aimed at some of the problems that government fails to adequately address," Comer said.

Comer also praised passage of a companion bill by the House Judiciary Committee today. House Bill 66 is sponsored by Rep. Kelly Flood of Lexington. During the committee meeting, Rep. Ryan Quarles of Georgetown acknowledged Rep. Flood's willingness to build bipartisan support for the measure, and Rep. Quarles pledged his support for benefit corporations.

"The Senate sponsors, Reps. Flood and Quarles, and members of my team are in communication to iron out differences in the bills so this legislation will sail through the General Assembly and move Kentucky forward," Comer said. "I am grateful to Sens. Thayer and Bowen and Reps. Flood and Quarles for their leadership on this issue and their courage to work across the aisle."

Comer was the first to propose allowing benefit corporations in Kentucky when he voiced support for the new corporate classification in a legislative hearing late last year.

Benefit corporations, or "b-corps," as they are commonly known, are for-profit entities that meet higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance. In addition to making money, these companies address social problems ranging from the inability of former convicts to find employment to improving education through technological advances.

Nineteen other states have already passed similar legislation, according to B-Lab, the group that certifies and monitors b-corps. Perhaps the best-known b-corp is Patagonia, an apparel and outdoor wear company and leader in supply-chain transparency that employs 1,300 people and earns $400 million per year. Comer and the b-corp bill sponsors hope to open Kentucky to a new class of investors looking to make money and achieve social change at the same time.

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