Senate passes felon voting rights legislation

03/21/2016 10:37 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would create a constitutional amendment which would give a future General Assembly the power to come up with guidelines for restoring felon voting rights has unanimously passed the state Senate.

Senate Bill 299, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, proposes a voter referendum, which, if passed, would give the General Assembly the authority to establish parameters to restore the voting rights to some non-violent convicted felons who have served their sentences.

“We need to have that authority granted to us by the people by amending the constitution, then we can set the parameters of what should and what should not be an automatic restoration of civil rights or have a waiting period or be forever barred from a restoration of civil rights,” Stivers said.

Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, who has been a strong supporter of restoring voting rights for non-violent convicted felons, says the legislation will allow convicted felons to be contributing members of society.

“We should invite individuals back into society and not burden them with things that push them away from society and not burden them with those things that push them away from society,” Neal said. “We want them to be great contributors. We want them to be productive citizens.”

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes restoration of voting right is the “fair and just thing to do.”

“Since I was elected Secretary of State, I have worked with Rep. Jesse Crenshaw and Rep. Darryl Owens to pass House Bill 70, legislation which would restore the right to vote to certain non-violent felons who have paid their debt to society,” Grimes said. “It’s the fair and just thing to do.

“I am happy the Senate has finally come to the table on this issue and is willing to work to re-enfranchise the thousands of Kentuckians who are affected,” she continued. “While Senate Bill 299 is imperfect, it is a step forward.

“I am hopeful that an agreement can be reached to finally give these men and women what they deserve – a second chance and a voice. Let’s embrace redemption.”

The bill now moves on the House for consideration.


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