Felon Voting Rights Restoration “Unlikely” To Pass in Kentucky This Year

A bill that would restore voting rights for thousands of Kentucky felons isn’t likely to pass this year.

Lawmakers say they could not reach an agreement over different versions of the proposed legislation.

GOP Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer previously amended the bill to include a five year waiting period and not cover felons with multiple offenses. Supporters of the proposed legislation have criticized Thayer’s changes, which would not affect about half of the 180,000 Kentuckians the original bill was meant to help.

Thayer now says compromise and passage is “unlikely” and his chamber is more concerned about passing a new state budget than what he calls “controversial legislation.”

But bill sponsor Jesse Crenshaw says Thayer is refusing to help find a compromise.

“It’s hard for me to deal with Sen. Thayer’s logic because of the fact that he is the man that has to act on calling the bill, calling even the senate committee substitute to not recede and he’s the only one that can do that,” he says.

Similar measures have also died in the GOP-led Senate. There was renewed hope for the efforts this year, however, due to Republican U.S. Senator Rand Pual’s support of the issue. 

House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover is a primary cosponsor of the legislation. He says he hasn’t spoken to Thayer on the issue in about a week, but says the Senate has refused to act on the bill.

“I just took it from my conversation that maybe there just wasn’t much room to move based on the wishes of the Senate and his caucus,” he says. “But I mean, if he were to call me and say ‘we want to talk,’ we’d run down there.”

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