Initial Proposed Budget

Initial Proposed Budget

Every two years the Legislature convenes a "long" regular session, running 60 legislative days.  During this even-year session we draft and vote on the Commonwealth's biennial budget.  This process takes many months, but the document itself gets it first official unveiling when the sitting Governor of the day makes his or her State of Commonwealth address in mid-January.  Last week, Governor Bevin gave his address to a joint session of the Senate and House and the following day the various budget bills were filed in the House (where law requires all appropriations bills to begin) and the legislative process begins in earnest.

Below are the budget bills for you to download and review if you're curious.  The bill must pass the House (where it will certainly change shape), before coming to the Senate (where it will change again), and then customarily a free conference committee is formed (made up of House and Senate members) to hammer out a compromise.  Once a unified version of the bill has passed both chambers it heads to the Governor for his signature or veto.

Marsy's Law Moves Forward

Marsy's Law Moves Forward

23,785

This represents the total number of felony convictions in Kentucky — for 2017 alone.  We know there is at least 1 victim in each of those cases, and many have more than 1.

Unfortunately, those nearly 24,000 Kentuckians in your communities have inadequate rights, or in some cases no rights at all, in the criminal justice system — a system in which, today, they are mere witnesses.

SB 3 completes criminal justice reform. Reduce reoffending by putting a real face to the crime – the victim’s.

Currently, Kentucky provides only statutory protections for crime victims. As you know, statutory protections are not legally as strong as the many constitutional protections that are provided to the accused or convicted.

This imbalance means that victim’s statutory rights are often overlooked. And when this happens, it makes victims feel as if they are standing outside of the process, when in fact the system should be just as focused on them as it is the defendant.    Senate Bill 3, known as Marsy’s Law, seeks to change that.

After more than 2 years of hard work, stakeholder meetings and input, and thorough scrutiny by the General Assembly, we have arrived at Senate Bill 3, and its companion, Senate Bill 30.  A bill supported by dozens of groups like the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, The Mary Byron Project, the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the KY FOP, the KY State Police Professional Association, and the Kentucky League of Cities — and by hundreds of leaders across the state, including some of you.

So what are the rights?

 

  • The right to NOTICE OF PROCEEDINGS, of RELEASE or ESCAPE
  • The right to BE PRESENT
  • The right to PROCEEDINGS FREE FROM UNREASONABLE DELAY
  • The right to CONSULT WITH THE PROSECUTION
  • The right to REASONABLE PROTECTION FROM THE ACCUSED
  • The right to CONSIDERATION OF VICTIM SAFETY WHEN SETTING BAIL/RELEASE
  • The right to RESTITUTION
  • The right to FAIRNESS and CONSIDERATION OF THE VICTIM’S SAFETY, DIGNITY & PRIVACY
  • The right to BE INFORMED OF THESE RIGHTS

…And critically, the victim is granted STANDING to assert these rights.

In short, Marsy’s Law creates a criminal justice system that finally recognizes the victim as an equal. In the words from a friend of mine who is a Judge from Georgia who saw that I filed Marsy’s Law: “SB 3 completes criminal justice reform. Reduce reoffending by putting a real face to the crime – the victim’s.”

I'm excited to report that as of this writing SB 3 has passed committee (unanimously) and became the first bill to pass the Kentucky Senate in 2018 (35-1), and now heads to the House for consideration.  If it makes final passage in the Legislature it then heads to the ballot this November for all Kentucky voters to make their voices heard!

 
(NOTE: Sen. Bowen cast his vote the following day after missing due to sickness, putting the final vote tally at 35-1.)

(NOTE: Sen. Bowen cast his vote the following day after missing due to sickness, putting the final vote tally at 35-1.)

 

Pension Reform Proposal

Pension Reform Proposal

UPDATED (9:59am CST): According to the Governor's office, the hazardous section was mistakenly omitted from the first document.  I have replaced the linked PDF below.

Senate, House and Executive Branch leadership have met for months discussing and debating what reforms we should pass to address Kentucky's ailing pensions systems.  The finer points of the legislation itself (a bill I'm told that is in excess of 500 pages) is still being put through statute revision (a key step in all legislation to check for errors) and proofread.  In the meantime, the folks working on the bill have prepared a summary of key points based on the bill.  Again, this is not a wishlist.  These provisions are contained in the bill itself.

Click below to download the summary:

As soon as the legislation is available I will be posting the full text here on the blog so be sure to bookmark the site, follow me at the links below to catch all the updates.

Race to the Bottom

Race to the Bottom

I'm deeply discouraged by the announcement of Churchill Downs and Keeneland today regarding their plans for a racetrack in Oak Grove.  As I have been since I first ran for the Senate, I am staunchly opposed to gaming – it is a regressive tax, targeting the middle and lower income earners, and in this case, the military families that live in and around Christian County, many of whom already live on meager salaries.

I believe gaming is bad for the area and the rest of the Commonwealth, and the opening of a racetrack, while adding a few jobs and bringing in some revenue, comes at too steep a price for the community.

Unfortunately, I don't have a vote on this in the legislature, but it is my sincere hope the racing commission denies their application for a license.  If I have any influence on the project I hope that I can stop it.  I'm for all the jobs and economic development we can find for Christian, Todd and Logan counties (and the rest of Kentucky), but not from gambling.  I wish there was a way to help Kentucky’s signature Thoroughbred industry thrive without it.