Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced legislation this week to make permanent a provision in the tax code to ensure Kentucky's bourbon producers can continue investing in their facilities and employees and remain on a level playing field with their global competitors.

The Advancing Growth in the Economy through Distilled (AGED) Spirits Act would maintain fairness for bourbon producers by allowing the deduction of interest expenses related to bourbon inventories in the year it is paid, according to a press release.

McConnell was able to get the "AGED Spirits Act" included in the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law in 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. However, the bourbon provision is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2019. The legislation would make the tax provision permanent to help Kentucky's bourbon industry continue to grow in communities throughout the commonwealth.

"The legislation I introduced today with Senator Paul would not only keep Kentucky's bourbon industry on a level playing field with its competitors, but would also help create jobs and provide a boost to Kentucky's economy," said Senator McConnell in the release. The AGED Spirits Act is a pro-growth measure that will maintain a fair footing between Kentucky's bourbon industry and its competitors abroad. This bill would benefit thousands of hard-working Kentuckians who have contributed to one of the commonwealth's signature industries and who have helped make Kentucky the 'Bourbon Capital of the World.'"

Before this provision was signed into law, interest expenses were not deducted until the bourbon was bottled and sold, which could be anywhere from 2 to more than 20 years after aging. The situation has been likened to a homeowner not being able to deduct the interest on a home mortgage until the sale of the house.

"The Advancing Growth in the Economy through Distilled Spirits Act will preserve Kentucky's signature bourbon industry by boosting job creation and maintaining a level playing field between bourbon and whiskey producers at home and their competitors abroad," Paul said in the release.

Kentucky produces 95% of the world's bourbon supply and has become an international tourist destination. According to a recent economic study, Kentucky bourbon contributes $8.6 billion to the state's economy each year and supports more than 20,000 jobs in the commonwealth. Since 2009, the number of distilleries in Kentucky has more than tripled to 68, and the number of counties with a distillery has quadrupled to 32 out of 120.

Congressmen Barr introduces bill to Protect Veterans' Children

Reps. Andy Barr, R-Ky., Phil Roe, M.D., R-Tenn., and several other Committee on Veterans' Affairs members recently introduced H.R. 3788, the VA Child Care Protection Act. The bill would prevent a child care provider from caring for children in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) child care program if they have been charged with a serious crime, such as the sexual assault of a child, until their case has been resolved, according to a release.

"Ensuring our veterans' children are safe while in the care of VA child care programs should not be a partisan issue," Barr said. "We have an obligation to ensure the safety of their children while receiving health care at the VA. I join Dr. Roe in calling for a hearing on our bill to address this critical issue and was dismayed when members of the majority opposed an identical version of this legislation in committee last week. We should not take chances with children's safety."

In February 2019, the House passed H.R. 840, as amended, the Veterans' Access to Child Care Act, to provide child care to veterans receiving mental health and certain other care through VA. The bill would prohibit a child care provider who has been convicted of a serious crime from caring for children in the VA child care program. However, it would allow a child care provider who has been charged with a serious crime but whose case is still pending to care for children in the program. The VA Child Care Protection Act would prevent an individual who has been charged with a sex offense, an offense involving a child victim, a violent crime or a drug felony from caring for children in the program unless they have been suspended from having any contact with children while on the job until the case has been resolved.

Jill Seyfred, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, expressed her support of the legislation. She said this amendment closes a loophole that could prevent children in the care of VA Facilities from being further traumatized.

"We know trauma experienced by children continues to impact their lives into adulthood. We owe it to veteran dependents and their families to ensure they are protected while their moms and dads are medically cared for," she said.

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