The Senate passed a watered-down version of a bill to restore voting rights for some convicted felons on Wednesday, potentially dooming a measure that has garnered support from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul. The changes — which would cut the list of those eligible for restoration of rights and impose a strict five-year waiting period — angered supporters of the original House Bill 70. “What we’re talking about is a basic human right,” said Tanya Fogle of Lexington, whose own voting rights were restored by Gov. Ernie Fletcher after she served a sentence for possession of crack cocaine and forging checks more than two decades ago.
Fogle said people like her, who work hard to turn their lives around, shouldn’t have to seek the governor’s permission to vote. Amendments added to the original House bill on Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer left her feeling like she wanted to cry.
Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, accused Thayer of inserting a “poison pill” into the measure to make it impossible for the bill to pass.
Thayer inserted the changes earlier in the day, during a Senate State & Local Government Committee hearing, saying he wouldn’t bring the measure to a floor vote without them.