Let Us Vote: Let's pass HB 70 out of the Senate
House Bill 70, the bill proposing a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to most former felons after they have served their time, has been reassigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This year, the bill passed out of the House again and was assigned to the Senate State and Local Government Committee. However, at the end of last week, the bill was reassigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is a new committee for HB 70 and we need to make sure the Senate Judiciary committee knows it is time to Let Us Vote!
Please call the legislative message line at 1-800-372-7181 and leave this message for the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee:
“Please pass a clean version of HB 70 out of committee this session – no additional waiting period and no more exclusions. It’s time to let us vote!”
You also may contact senators directly by calling 502-564-8100 and asking for them by name. Write to them ℅ Capitol Annex, 702 Capital Ave., Frankfort, KY 40601. Use the talking points below to help make your points.
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth opposes adding an additional waiting period to HB 70. Here’s why:
We already have a waiting period. Kentuckians who qualify for voting rights restoration under HB 70 already have a waiting period built into the process through probation and parole. Those who are directly impacted by HB 70 must wait until they have completed probation and parole, as well as paid all fines and restitution. Adding anymore time to the bill would be an additional waiting period.
A waiting period makes Kentucky an outlier. Nebraska is the only state to impose a waiting period after a person has completed his or her full sentence before they become eligible to vote.
HB 70 is already a compromise. Supporters of attaching a waiting period HB 70 say it is part of the process of compromising to get the bill passed; however, HB 70 is already the product of a compromise and includes plenty of exemptions and exclusions.
HB 70 is the most streamlined option. The more restrictions, exclusions, exemptions, and waiting periods added to the bill, the more complicated it is to administer and the more room for error. The process should be clear for those who are eligible for rights restoration, and also for those in charge of administering the process. Let’s keep the bill and the process as simple as possible.
The legislature is determining a judicial sentence. Judges or juries set the length of probation or parole based on the severity of the offense. An additional waiting period of a pre-determined length set by the legislature fails to recognize differences in the type of felony committed. This additional waiting period could be longer than the actual sentence.
Restoration must win a public vote. Any weakening of the legislation with a waiting period and other restrictions will erode public support and lessen chances of winning voter approval.