Restoration of felon voting rights bill: Is there a path to compromise?

03/31/2014 08:51 PM

On what might have been the second-to-last day of the 2014 General Assembly, a litany of bills moved Monday, but one high-profile bill that even had the support of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is still stuck in legislative purgatory.

The bill pushed by Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, would amend the Kentucky constitution to return voting rights to convicted felons after they serve jail time has been in the state Senate’s possession since March.

The House refused to accept the Senate’s changes to the bill, but no conference committee has been called. Crenshaw told Pure Politics he was ready to work out a path forward on the bill, but the two sides have never met.

Sen. President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, told reporters Monday morning that it was his understanding that there has been no movement from either side to back off of their positions.

But Crenshaw said it would be tough to know where everyone stands on the legislation because the conference committee was never called. Crenshaw laid out the legislative back-and-forth with the bill when asked by Pure Politics about the state of the legislation Monday evening.

“So far, I have not seen any indication on their part that they are planning to appoint a conference committee,” Crenshaw said. “That’s the next step and there’s only two days with any possibility.”

Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, carried the bill in the Senate and added a provision to the bill which would require felons to wait five-years before being allowed to vote. There were also a host of other changes made to the bill via a Senate Committee Substitute which made it more difficult for felons to regain voting rights.

Thayer had been trying to move a bill which would require voters show photo identification along side the measure to restore voting rights, but said that legislation had some “technical issues,” and it wouldn’t be heard this session.

Legislative leaders now will go on a two-week recess for the governor to consider vetoes. The General Assembly reconvenes April 14 for what legislative leaders hope will be their last day.


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