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Marsy's Law Ruling

Marsy's Law Ruling

Yesterday, October 15, the Franklin Circuit Court issued its ruling in the legal challenge by the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to SB3 (2018), known widely as Marsy’s Law. The Court determined that the ballot question for this constitutional amendment addressing victims’ rights is unconstitutional. I profoundly disagree with this determination, and will seek transfer of the inevitable appeal directly to the Kentucky Supreme Court. As the sponsor of SB 3, I have worked tirelessly to elevate the voice of crime victims within the criminal justice system as a constitutional right, and I am steadfastly committed to this cause regardless of today’s ruling. I remain confident that SB 3 will be incorporated into the Kentucky Constitution by the voters of the Commonwealth.

These are the key takeaways to keep in mind:

  1. The ruling is being appealed; the notice of appeal was filed today.

  2. Marsy’s Law WILL STILL be on the ballot in November and we still NEED YOUR VOTE!

  3. The Judge’s ruling expressly allows for the Secretary of State to still count the ballots in support of Marsy’s Law. This was done to allow for the orderly appeal process in which we are now engaged.

  4. Our fight to ensure crime victims the rights and respect they deserve continues stronger than ever!

  5. For more information about Marsy’s Law, FAQ, endorsements and news releases, please visit https://www.victimsrightsky.com/

  6. A misleading narrative keeps popping up that Marsy’s Law will weaken the presumption of innocence. This is FALSE. In fact, the proposed amendment specifically includes language that clearly states “Nothing in this section shall afford the victim party status, or be construed as altering the presumption of innocence in the criminal justice system.” (SB3, p.2, Lines 7-8)

You can find PDF’s of my statement, the Franklin Circuit Court’s ruling and the full text of Marsy’s Law below. Stay up to date on the case by bookmarking this site, or by following on Twitter and Facebook (linked below). I’ll keep updates posted as I have them.

KYTC Traffic Advisory

KYTC Traffic Advisory

A heads up for I-24 summer travelers through West Kentucky from the Transportation Cabinet: 


Traffic ADVISORY

As a reminder, EASTBOUND traffic continues to be restricted to ONE LANE along Interstate 24 at the Tennessee River Bridge at the 30 mile marker in Kentucky.

I-24 eastbound traffic is restricted to one lane at the 30 mile marker due to a defective finger joint on the bridge deck.  All traffic is moved to the left-hand or passing lane on the bridge.

A $1.1 million contract for replacement of the joint and other work on the bridge was issued to American Contracting & Services, Inc., on May 2, 2018.  Due to close tolerance design requirements for the new joint, fabrication of a new joint is a tedious process.  At this time, it appears a new joint will not be ready for the contractor to start installation until well after the July 4th Holiday.  Therefore, this lane restriction will have to remain in place long-term.

Eastbound motorists traveling I24 should continue to be alert for slowing and merging traffic as they approach this lane restriction at the 30 mile marker. To aid in traffic flow at this location, motorists should start moving to the left-hand or passing lane after they pass the US 62 Exit 27 Overpass.

Some traffic delays have been evident at this site during peak travel periods each Friday afternoon and on weekends.  Traffic backups of 2 to 3 miles have occasionally been observed at this site.  This will especially be the case for busy July 4th Independence Day Holiday travel period.

While lane restrictions will be taken down wherever possible to prepare for the high traffic volume expected over the July 4thIndependence Day Holiday, this work zone lane restriction will have to remain in place.

To reduce the potential for delays, eastbound motorists on I-24 may choose to self-detour around this lane restriction via US 62 East and KY 453 North between I-24 Exit 27 at Calvert City and I-24 Exit 31 at Grand Rivers or I-24 Exit 40 at Eddyville.

The Interstate 24 Tennessee River Bridges are twin tied arch suspension bridges at mile point 29.352 at the Marshall-Livingston County Line.

The 2,017 ft. bridges with a 534 ft. main span are also known as the Luther Draffen Bridge. The bridges opened to traffic in 1974. The structure carries approximately 30,000 vehicles across the Tennessee River in an average day.

Timely traffic advisories for the 12 counties of KYTC Highway District 1 are available by going to www.facebook.com/kytcdistrict1. You do not have to be a Facebook member to access this page.

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Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee

Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee

Over the course of the 2017 interim period a bipartisan working group of House members met several times to hear from stakeholder groups about issues related to Kentucky’s adoption and foster care processes.  I was fortunate to “audit” some of those meetings as an interested member of the Senate.  When the 2018 session began the working group’s end product became House Bill 1, which ultimately passed one vote short of unanimously.

HB1 contained a number of critical changes to the child welfare process for foster care and adoption, including imposing new timelines and restrictions to prevent cases from lingering overlong on court dockets and getting stranded in the inboxes of the state’s bureaucracy.  The bill also creates a new Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee and I am honored to be named as a member by the Senate President:

Commonwealth of Kentucky
Office of Senator Whitney Westerfield

For Immediate ReleaseJune 8, 2018

Contact: John Cox

John.Cox@LRC.KY.GOV

Senate President Stivers appoints Senate Judiciary Chairman Whitney Westerfield to the Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 8, 2018) – Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers announced Thursday the appointment of Senator Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville) to the  Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee. The newly-formed committee was created in statute with the recent passage of House Bill 1 from the 2018 Legislative Session.

House Bill (HB) 1 gives more rights to foster parents by cutting red tape and reducing regulatory burdens associated with adopting a child in Kentucky. The Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee was created by HB 1 to review, analyze, and provide oversight on child welfare, including but not limited to foster care, adoption, and child abuse, neglect, and dependency.

“As an adoptive parent, I understand the challenges and anxieties associated with Kentucky’s adoption process,” Senator Westerfield said. “I look forward to applying my experience in the courtroom and as the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman to the child welfare process where too often children fall through the cracks. I was proud to carry House Bill 1 in the Senate, I am proud to serve on this committee, and I am anxious to get to work to further improve our adoption and foster care programs in the Commonwealth.”

A meeting schedule for the Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee is expected to be announced in the near future. For more information on the committee, please visit http://www.lrc.ky.gov/committee/statutory/SWOAC/home.htm. For the full text of HB 1, please visit http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/18RS/HB1.htm.

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Veto Recess

Veto Recess

One of the critical functions of government at the state and federal level is the system of "checks and balances" on power held by any one branch.  The General Assembly passes legislation but the Governor has the authority to either sign the legislation into law or veto the bill.  In the event of a gubernatorial veto, the legislature has the authority to override that decision.

The GA has exercised this authority in the past, overriding Governors' vetoes.  (I have seen a split legislature overturn a Democratic Governor's veto, and a Republican-controlled legislature overturn a Republican Governor's vetoes.)  This year the General Assembly preserved its authority to override a veto on a number of the most critical (and contentious bills) by passing them prior to the start of the veto recess.  By doing this, the legislature has reserved the final two days of session, after the veto period has expired for bills passed to date, to consider any vetoes for a possible override vote.

Earlier today, Governor Bevin issued two veto letters; one for the biennial budget and one for the tax/revenue bill passed alongside it.  You can view the Governor's veto letter for each bill linked below.  The General Assembly returns to session for its final two days on Friday and Saturday of this week.  Stay tuned for updates on if or when we consider overriding the vetoes.

This Governor held a press conference explaining the veto on both bills, and sometime later in the day the Senate President and Speaker Pro Tempore of the House issued the following joint statement:


Commonwealth of Kentucky
Senate President Robert Stivers
House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne
 
For Immediate Release
April 5, 2018

Contact: John Cox
John.Cox@LRC.KY.GOV
 
Contact: Daisy Olivo
Daisy.Olivo@LRC.KY.GOV


SENATE PRESIDENT, SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE RELEASE JOINT STATEMENT RESPONDING TO GOVERNOR BEVIN’S VETOES
 
FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 9, 2018) – The following is a joint statement from Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) and House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne (R-Prospect) reacting to Governor Matt Bevin’s announcement to veto House Bill 200 and House Bill 366:
 
“We believe Governor Bevin is misguided in his interpretation of the budget and the revenue bills, as we are comfortable with LRC staff revenue projections. To our knowledge, the Governor has had no discussions with any legislators on the details of this budget and what he might consider to be a shortfall. We believe Governor Bevin would be best served to meet with legislators to understand their thoughts and rationale before making a final decision on vetoing the revenue and/or budget bills.”
 
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NOTE: You can find links to each of the Governor's 2018 veto letters here, which is updated as new vetoes are issued.

We Should Ban Child Marriage

We Should Ban Child Marriage

A bill proposed by Sen. Julie Raque Adams that would provide court oversight on petitions for a marriage license for 17 year-olds (SB48), is set for a second hearing in my committee tomorrow morning, and I plan to call the bill for a vote.

After working with Donna Pollard (Survivors' Corner) and the Family Foundation we have arrived at an amendment to the bill the requires parental consent, but critically requires a court to review the petition to prevent the same kind of abuse that Donna Pollard experienced as a child.

Contrary to what was believed by so many on social media, the bill sponsor and I worked together on this amendment and the bill was never not going to be heard.  I said as much after our first hearing on the bill back in February.  I’m looking forward to seeing it pass committee in the morning and then hopefully be voted on the Senate floor soon thereafter.

For those asking, the amendment (known as a “proposed senate substitute”) is attached below.