Nearly 180,000 ex-felons in Kentucky who have fully served their sentences would regain their right to vote under a proposed constitutional amendment that a state House committee approved Tuesday. House Bill 70, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, would not apply to ex-felons who committed intentional murder, rape, sodomy or a sex offense with a minor. The legislation has sailed through the Democratic-controlled House in past sessions but has stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. Some Republicans say the measure would benefit Democratic candidates, but House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, told the House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs on Tuesday that he doesn’t buy that argument. The legislation is needed because it “is a matter of fairness,” he said. “We are a forgiving society.”
Hoover has voted for the proposal in other legislative sessions, but Tuesday marked the first time he has testified for it in committee.
Crenshaw said he appreciated Hoover’s support and hopes that U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Bowling Green Republican who has come out in favor of the measure, will urge Republican senators to back the bill.
Others testifying for the bill in the House committee included the Rev. Patrick Delahanty, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky; Nita Smith, legislative liaison for the League of Women Voters in Kentucky; and Raoul Cunningham, president of the Louisville branch of the NAACP.