Kentucky Senate avoids vote on abortion exceptions

Republished from Kentucky Lantern

FRANKFORT — With about five hours left in the 2024 legislative session, a Louisville Democrat tried to force a Senate vote on a stalled bill that would have added exceptions for rape and incest to Kentucky’s strict abortion ban. 

Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer called the move “a political stunt on the last day of the legislative session” — and it easily failed. 

Sen. David Yates, D-Louisville, filed a discharge petition last week. Senate President Robert Stivers ruled it out of order. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Isabella Sepahban)

Sen. David Yates, D-Louisville, cited Rule 48 to ask for a vote on Senate Bill 99, which hasn’t moved since it was filed in January. All bills must be assigned to a committee within five days of being introduced, according to Senate Rules. Rule 48 allows any member to call for a vote on whether a bill has been “held an unreasonable time” the day after filing a discharge petition. 

Senate President Robert Stivers ruled the petition out of order, saying that for it to be in order Yates would have had to call the discharge petition with one full legislative day remaining. 

The rule says a lawmaker can “call the petition for consideration on the next succeeding legislative day after its filing.” Yates filed the petition on Friday.  

After Stivers ruled his petition out of order, Yates asked for a roll call vote in a challenge of that ruling. Senators took Stivers’ side along party lines, with the exception of Sen. Adrienne Southworth, R-Lawrenceburg. 

Southworth said it was clear to her “in black and white” that Yates had a right to make his motion. 

“I’m not surprised,” Yates told the Lantern after the vote. “I’m disappointed, especially when it’s that clear.”  

This story may update. 

Democratic Sen. David Yates looks on as Republican Sen. Adrienne Southworth votes in his favor of his discharge petition. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Isabella Sepahban)

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