Kentucky’s Republican-controlled Senate passes three Democratic bills

Kentucky Lantern

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FRANKFORT — Three Democratic-sponsored bills passed out of Kentucky’s Republican-controlled Senate Friday morning. 

Two of the bills, Senate Bills 48 and 14, received unanimous approval and the third, Senate Bill 45, gained 32 votes from Republicans and Democrats, with three GOP senators voting no. With 23 days left for lawmakers to meet, these were the first bills primarily sponsored by Democrats to move out of the Senate this session. 

Because Republicans hold a supermajority in Kentucky’s legislature, it is much more likely for GOP legislation to get committee hearings and floor votes. 

Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, said he appreciated the bipartisanship in the chamber while casting a vote in favor of Senate Bill 48. The legislation, sponsored by Democratic Whip David Yates, of Louisville, would allow multiple offenses of theft committed within a year to be treated as a single offense. The timeline now is within 90 days. 

“I thought we were here on Good Friday for a second because of all this peace and love we’re having this morning,” Carpenter said. “I see that we’ve had three bills brought from our friends from the other side, so this is a great opportunity to do bipartisan work this morning.” 

Yates was also the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 45, which would establish the Kentucky Ashanti Alert System to share public alerts about missing adults. Senate Bill 14, sponsored by Democratic Caucus Chair Reggie Thomas, of Lexington, adds a licensed nail technician representative and another citizen at-large member to the Kentucky Board of Cosmetology, and removes barriers for nail technician applicants, such as allowing written theory tests to be in an applicants’ first or second fluent languages. 

The Senate also unanimously approved another bill that Thomas had supported, though Republican Sen. Amanda Mays Bledose is the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 131. The two Lexington senators previously told the Senate State and Local Government Committee their bill was needed to prevent the use of “deep fakes” or deceptive artificial intelligence to influence Kentucky elections. It allows political candidates appearing in manipulated digital media to bring legal action against the sponsor of the media. 

Republicans gained control of the Senate in 2000. Now, the GOP holds a strong majority with 31 seats. Seven Democrats are in the chamber. 

Over in the House, representatives passed a Democratic-sponsored bill, House Bill 299, earlier this session. The bill would direct the Secretary of State to create a grant database as a repository for all state grants. It has not received a Senate committee assignment yet. Republicans took control of the House in 2016.

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