A House committee tried a last ditch effort to restore voting rights for former felons by attaching a version of House Bill 70 to a Senate bill that was dying in the House. Senate Bill 58 proposes a constitutional amendment that would give most felons who have completed their sentences their voting rights back immediately when their sentences are finished and they are no longer on probation or parole. It would, however, allow the legislature to enact through statute a waiting period of up to three years. The bill passed the House by an 85-13 vote and now goes to the Senate. “This is a ‘Hail Mary’ pass,” said state Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, who favors the bill.
A bill that would restore voting rights for thousands of Kentucky felons isn’t likely to pass this year. Lawmakers say they could not reach an agreement over different versions of the proposed legislation. GOP Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer previously amended the bill to include a five year waiting period and not cover felons with multiple offenses. Supporters of the proposed legislation have criticized Thayer’s changes, which would not affect about half of the 180,000 Kentuckians the original bill was meant to help.
Despite broad bipartisan support in the Kentucky House of Representatives and the backing of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a bill that would automatically restore voting rights for most convicted felons who complete their sentences appears dead. Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said he likely won’t call the measure for a second vote because the Senate backs amendments he placed on the bill in the Senate State and Local Government Committee. Senate President Robert Stivers said that House members have indicated they won’t compromise on the issue and that there is little Senate support for House Bill 70 as originally proposed. But two House sponsors of the measure — Democrat Rep. Jesse Crenshaw of Lexington and Republican Minority Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown — both said they’ve never claimed they wouldn’t compromise.
The Kentucky House on Wednesday rejected changes to a bill that would automatically restore voting rights to many felons. This throws out a set of revisions from the Republican-controlled Senate that would have reduced the number of affected felons by more than half.
In the annals of cynical politics, Kentucky’s Republican Senate has reached new heights, or depths. It has thumbed its collective nose at 180,000 Kentuckians who have served their time for felony convictions but still aren’t allowed to vote, and the thousands of people who have worked for years to restore their voting rights — and told them they should be thankful. The House should refuse this farcical rewrite. The Senate has a long history of rejecting felon voting rights but the twist this year is the upper chamber manipulated the process so it could appear to be expanding rights without actually doing so.
A bill that would restore voting rights for non-violent felons has passed a Kentucky House committee. The measure is Rep. Jesse Crenshaw’s latest attempt to put approximately 130,000 felons back on the voting rolls. Similar efforts have repeatedly stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. But Crenshaw says he hopes that his bill will fare better this year due to support from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.
Kentucky: House panel approves bill to give most ex-felons in Kentucky the right to vote | Kentucky.com
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.”
Kentucky: Advocates for felons’ voting rights hope changes in legislature prove beneficial to bill | Kentucky.com
In describing Jesse Crenshaw, the average person could call him a long-time state representative who was first elected to serve the 77th District in 1993. But for convicted felons who have paid their debt to society, the adjectives used could be determined, persistent, unflagging and resolute. That’s because for years Crenshaw has introduced a bill in the House that would call for the automatic restoration of voting rights for all felons except those who convicted of “treason, intentional killing, a sex crime or bribery.” “It is one of the most important rights a person can have,” Crenshaw said. “From a Christian standpoint, it is about redemption.” There are more than 234,000 Kentuckians with felony convictions, he said, “and most of those are already out of prison. These are people in our society who deserve to be able to vote.”