Beshear Being Pressured on Religious Freedom Bill

Mar 12, 2013

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear

Gov. Steve Beshear is being pressured from both sides of a controversial bill that would strengthen legal protections for religious freedom in Kentucky.

Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, are urging Beshear to veto the measure. They say the law could allow someone claiming religious freedom to discriminate against gays and lesbians, undermining civil rights protections in cities such as Lexington.

Religious groups, including the Kentucky Baptist Convention, are asking the governor to sign the bill. They say it gives higher legal standing to someone who claims the government infringed on religion. The courts would still rule on the matter.

The General Assembly passed the bill on Friday. Beshear said Tuesday he hasn't looked at it yet.

Bill to Strengthen Human Trafficking Law Passes

The General Assembly is sending Gov. Steve Beshear a bill that would strengthen Kentucky's human trafficking law by increasing punishments for offenders and bolstering protections for victims.

The measure saw final passage in the House Tuesday afternoon on a 97-0 vote. The Senate approved the bill on Thursday. Beshear called for the legislation in this year's State of the Commonwealth speech.

Human trafficking is forcing someone to work or engage in sex acts for money. The bill bars authorities from arresting juvenile victims, mandating treatment and protective services instead. The bill also requires offenders to forfeit property used in the crimes and pay a $10,000 fine, all of which would finance a fund for victims and training for police.