Westerfield thrilled with the number of bills which protect children that have been passed in 2018

03/29/2018 01:30 PM

FRANKFORT – The 2018 legislative session will be remembered for a number of reasons including the large number of child and victims rights bills which were passed.

Senate Judiciary committee chair Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, sponsored and worked on several of those bills and feels a sense of accomplishment that his work has paid off.

“These are enormous sea-change policy shifts in Kentucky to protect, in the case of Marsy’s Law, all crime victims, and in the case of (SB) 137, making sure that the right evidence, the evidence that can help prosecute these worst scumbag offenders, to make sure that is not excluded at the door of the courtroom, but can be considered by the judge,” Westerfield said.

Another bill Westerfield was proud to see passed was Senate Bill 48, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, which established the legal age of 18 for marriage in Kentucky, except when a 17-year-old gets their parents permission and judicial approval to be married, provided the person the child is going to marry is not more than 4 years older.

Studies have shown between 2000 and 2015, there were 11,000 cases of underage marriage in the state, and only 7 percent of that 11,000 were between a minor and a minor. Ninety three percent of those marriages were between a minor and an adult.

“In Donna Pollard’s case, it’s hard for us to hear it but we know there are parents out there, and guardians out there that don’t often have their child’s best interest at heart,” Westerfield said. “That’s tragic and leads to terrible circumstances.”

Westerfield admits that 2018 has been a special year because it, in many cases, has been the culmination of alot of work.

“One of the most frustrating things about the job is how long it takes for certain pieces of legislation to get through,” Westerfield said. “It took 9 years for the dating violence bill to come through. The wait is sometimes painfully long, but when the results come through and you’re able to pass a bill, and a lot of people stand up together to do it, Republicans, Democrats, everybody, man the reward is enormous.

Even though the 2018 session has not concluded, Westerfield’s already thinking about his priority bills for 2019 .

Westerfield has already announced that he will be running once again for attorney general in 2019.

While Westerfield said that he has not been focused on that during this session, it’s something that he’ll begin to concentrate on after the session ends.

“I’m routinely frustrated by the Attorney General’s failure to act, based on what’s been passed by this legislature based on upholding the rule of law, but instead, choosing which fights he’s going to pick, based on what’s politically expedient,” Westerfield said. “I don’t know what he (Beshear) is going to do, he may run for AG again, he may run for governor, I’m indifferent, I believe that I can be the best attorney general
that Kentucky can have.”


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