Senate President Robert Stivers kept a pledge Friday by sponsoring legislation aimed at ensuring Kentucky soldiers deployed overseas can cast their ballots back home through an electronic transmission system that the secretary of state will be required to develop.
The bill was given the designation "Senate Bill 1," signifying it is the Senate's top priority in the legislative session.
Secretary of State Alison Grimes, who backs the legislation, said 121 soldiers from Kentucky didn't have their ballots counted in last year's election because they didn't arrive back in the state by Election Day.
The biggest proposed change is that soldiers would no longer have to rely on traditional mail to return their ballots. The bill also would allow late ballots to be counted as long as they're back in the state before elections are certified, which happens three days after Election Day.
If a federal judge's ruling goes into effect, businesses that sell liquor in Kentucky may see increased competition — and those businesses are encouraging legislators to act before an appeals decision comes down.
Judge John Heyburn tossed the laws last year, saying it was unconstitutional to allow places like drug stores to sell some wine and liquor, but not groceries.
But Heyburn put that ruling on hold to let lawmakers re-write the laws. Since that point, interested groups have been working on solutions to keep a free-for-all for liquor licenses across the state from happening.
State Senate President Robert Stivers says he wants to wait on an appeals ruling in the case are finished before lawmakers tackle the issue.
But Roger Leasor, the Director of Community Relations with Liquor Barn, a company that owns many liquor stores across Kentucky, says that's a bad idea.
Work on reforming some of Kentucky’s liquor laws may wait until a federal appeals court rules on a current challenge.
A federal circuit judge threw out state laws dealing with where wine and distilled spirits can be sold, calling them unfair. Currently only select stores — such as liquor stores and pharmacies — can sell those beverages, while others — such as groceries — can only sell beer.
The judge’s ruling challenging that disparity is being appealed to the 6th Circuit and Senate President Robert Stivers wants to wait until that is resolved before his chamber gets involved.
“We have had some discussion of the issue, but we feel it appropriate and it’s my opinion and I feel it appropriate that until it is litigated and gone through the legal system, we don’t know if Judge Heyburn’s decision will be affirmed, or remanded or reversed,” he says.
So far, no proposals on how to change the law that would withstand the judge’s ruling has been put forth, House Speaker Greg Stumbo says.