Legislative roundup: Senate passes DNA bill and juvenile justice study: House approves two court-related bills

02/11/2013 07:07 PM

The Senate unanimously signed off on a bill giving those convicted of the most serious crimes the right to use DNA evidence to contest their convictions. And it sent the House a measure that would continue a juvenile justice task force for another year.

Pure Politics covered the debate over the measures in last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 23 that lays out the use of DNA evidence in challenging a conviction of a capital offense or Class A or B felony passed 38-0. Senate President Robert Stivers spoke on the measure’s behalf marking the first time he had given a speech on a bill since taking over the chamber last month, as Senate GOP spokeswoman Lourdes Baez-Schrader tweeted out .

The Senate also unanimously voted to send the House Senate Concurrent Resolution 35 that will extend for another year the task force looking into ways to improve Kentucky’s juvenile justice system, including avoiding locking up so-called status offenders in juvenile detention centers. The measure was sponsored by freshman Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Chairman.

Westerfield’s fellow senators had some fun with him as his first piece of legislation came up for a vote. Twenty-one veteran senators voted against the measure at first as a little freshman hazing before changing their votes to unanimously approve it, as Sen. Sarah Beth Gregory tweeted along with a picture.

House approves two court-related bills

Meanwhile, the House approved House Bill 47 that would allow for expungement of Class D felonies under certain circumstances.

The measured passed 78-18, as Patrick Delahanty, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky tweeted out along with a picture of the bill’s sponsor Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, speaking on the measure’s behalf.

And the House also overwhelmingly voted for Rep. Joni Jenkins’ bill that would allow a judge to handle a competency hearing in a guardianship case without a jury trial.

The bench trial bill, House Bill 105, passed passed 87-9, as KET’s Renee Shaw was tweeted out.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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