Kentucky Politics

Bills limiting no-knock warrants, increasing support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and investing in west Louisville became law in Kentucky on Friday.

Gov. Andy Beshear signed the three bills at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage in Louisville, in front of an audience that included Tamika Palmer. Her daughter, Breonna Taylor, was shot and killed last year by Louisville police who were authorized to raid her apartment by a no-knock warrant.

Palmer wiped tears from her eyes and stood behind Beshear as he signed Senate Bill 4. The measure puts limitations on no-knock warrants, but falls short of the all-out ban on such warrants that protesters and some lawmakers preferred. No-knock warrants were already banned in Louisville last summer as protesters demanded accountability for Taylor’s killing.

Breonna’s Law, filed by House rep. Attica Scott of Louisville, proposed such a ban statewide but never received a vote. Instead, they took up a bill sponsored by Republican Senate President Robert Stivers that allows those warrants only in situations involving allegedly violent activity or other emergencies. It also prohibits using the warrants between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and requires emergency medical services to be on site.

Beshear said the law limiting no-knock warrants creates meaningful change.

“It will save lives and it moves us in the right direction,” he said.

Beshear also signed Senate Bill 270, which would give students at Louisville’s Simmons College of Kentucky, the only private HBCU in the state, the opportunity to use state tuition grants.

“In doing so, it’s gonna boost academic achievement among African American students both directly and indirectly,” Beshear said.

He said it would also encourage more cooperation between Simmons and Frankfort’s Kentucky State University, also an HBCU.

The third bill Beshear signed was House Bill 321, which creates a tax increment financing district in west Louisville. He said the goal is to “foster transformational change” in the area, which is made up of nine neighborhoods and home to a large Black population.

The area continues to suffer economically due to decades of racist and discriminatory government policies, though the city of Louisville has attempted to spur investment there in recent years. That investment, however, comes with the risk of displacement.

Beshear said this $30 million injection wouldn’t cause that, though he did not specify how the law would prevent displacement.

“This new law will create a tax increment finance district, or TIF, to draw economic opportunities to the West End without forcing displacement, so the West End can maintain a strong sense of community and culture,” he said.

Jess Clark contributed to this story.

This story has been updated to clarify that Rep. Scott’s bill banning no-knock warrants never received a vote.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Editor.