WKU Public Radio News Staff
Wed March 5, 2014
Lawmaker Pushes Felon Voting Rights Bill at Anniversary March in Frankfort
Update 5:45 p.m.
The Kentucky House has rejected changes to a bill that would automatically restore voting rights to many felons.
This throws out a set of revisions from the Republican-controlled Senate that would have reduced the number of affected felons by more than half.
Bill sponsor Jesse Crenshaw implored colleagues to vote against the changes.
“The Senate committee substitute is a totally different bill. It does not accomplish what House Bill 70 was intended to accomplish,” said Crenshaw
The Senate must decide whether to drop its changes or keep them. If it’s the latter, the bill will go to a conference committee so lawmakers can seek a compromise.
Sen. Damon Thayer proposed the rejected changes in the Senate. He says it's premature to speculate about how the Senate will react.
Thousands of people descended onto the Kentucky state Capitol building Wednesday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a Civil Rights march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The original 1964 march on Frankfort agitated for Civil Rights in segregation-era Kentucky, building support for the passage of the 1966 Kentucky Civil Rights Act.
Wednesday’s rally centered on the restoration of felon voting rights. Rep. Jesse Crenshaw has filed a bill that would automatically restore suffrage for many felons. And Crenshaw told the crowd to call every member of the Senate to garner support for his original bill, which was watered down by that Republican-led body.
“The theme today is lift every voice and vote. I ask you ladies and gentlemen to lift every voice and contact every member of the Senate and ask them to help restore House Bill 70 to House Bill 70,” said Crenshaw.
In Kentucky, about one in five African-American males cannot vote because of a felony charge.