This week, we remember the bills that held so much promise when they were introduced by their loving legislators for the 2019 session of the General Assembly.
While other bills, such as Concealed “Permit-less” Carrie, Easier Expungement Eddie and Anti-Abortion Arnold were coddled and nurtured until they were mature enough to be sent off to the governor’s desk, their brethren bills languished in neglectful committees. They were loved and doted on by one chamber but rejected in the other. Some, were DOA.
But, lo, there is still hope. Like Lazarus, these bills could be resurrected. On March 28, the General Assembly convenes again to pass final judgment, although if they do approve legislation, they will run out of time on this Earth to rebuke Gov. Matt Bevin if he chooses to smote them back to heck with his mighty veto.
After that, who knows? Maybe these bills will be reborn in a future session. For now, though, a moment of silence. In memoriam:
Better Gun Rules
HB 76 —Shortly before the 2019 legislative session began, two African-Americans were shot dead at a Kroger in Jeffersontown. This, combined with other shootings, compelled lawmakers to seek new gun regulations, the most comprehensive of which asked for familiar “commonsense” restrictions: background checks for private firearm sales and more opportunities for judges to take guns from domestic abusers and those ruled mentally ill. But Kentucky’s majority rural and Republican-led legislature said “thanks, but no thanks,” and instead chose to pass a bill that nixed the permit requirement for carrying a concealed weapon.
Hate Crime Penalties
SB 190 — This bill also was introduced in response to the Kroger shooting. Federal prosecutors brought hate-crime charges, but if the same offense were prosecuted by the state, it wouldn’t be allowed to be designated as one. That’s because murder and other life-ending crimes aren’t included in the statute. State Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, took note of this and proposed legislation that would have added more serious crimes to the list, as well as harsher penalties for hate crimes, including a requirement that perpetrators serve 85 percent of their prison time before being eligible for parole. Neal’s bill was ignored in committee.
Limited Cash Bail
HB 94 — We were told limiting the influence of cash bail on our justice system had a chance this year, but we were told wrong. State Rep. John Blanton’s bill, backed by the state Chamber of Commerce, would have given poor people a better chance of getting out of jail before trial. It would have barred judges from assigning bail, allowing them to impose it only as a retroactive fee to be paid if the defendant didn’t show up in court. But it never received a reading.
Pay Cut For Tech Officer
HB 499 — We thought Senate Republicans were against exorbitant spending, but they don’t seem to mind Chief Information Officer Charles Grindle’s salary of $375,000. The House passed a bill 99-0 to strip Grindle of a $215,000 raise granted to him by Bevin, but Senate majority leadership refused to advance the legislation. With Bevin holding veto power, it looks like Grindle will keep the title of highest paid employee in Bevin’s administration.
Cat, dog Protections
HB 25, HB 36 — The Kentucky legislature has finally banned bestiality. Yep, that was still a thing. But other bills raising protections for animals were not picked up this year. HB 25 would have made torture of a dog or cat a Class D felony, and it would have prevented pretrial diversion for those charged with that torture. Dead. HB 36 would have protected superheroes who break the windows of vehicles to save pets. Dead. Beastiality, though? Dead in a good way.
HB 175, SB 23 — Not just sportsballers were eager to see legalized sports betting in the state. It, too, was said to have a good chance of being pushed through, pitched as a way to raise revenue for Kentucky. But it and a bill that would have legalized casinos were too bold for the uptight state of Kentucky. Several lawmakers said they opposed it on moral grounds. It performed well in its House committee, but never made it to a full chamber vote.
No Tax Tampons
HB 23 — Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville, had a vision: A future where women did not have to pay extra (sales and use tax) for a necessity: feminine hygiene products. Her vision died in committee. We don’t think this one has a chance at new life.
War on Teachers
HB 205, 525 — These were the bills that caused the Great Teacher Sick-Out of 2019. One, HB 205, would have allowed a tax credit for donating to create scholarships for private and religious schools. The other, HB 525, would have replaced Kentucky Education Association appointees to the educator pension board. Teachers saw them as an assault on public education, and they rushed to the Capitol to protest. Both bills have been declared dead by lawmakers, but teachers, and we, aren’t going to stop looking for a pulse until Sine Die.
HB 136, SB 170 — It could have been a Rocky-like success story for medical marijuana. It had taken its share of punches in past sessions, but was looking tougher than ever, especially after Bevin said he might back it. The House passed it out of committee, but it never received a full vote. Even if it did, the Senate would have been ready with a killer KO.
Asset Forfeiture Reporting
HB 430 — Thanks to nifty journalism from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, there was some interest in this bill to strengthen reporting from state law enforcement agencies that take — and keep — money and other property that’s tied to criminal activity. Like many bills before, it never made it to a chamber vote.