Voting Rights Update and a Shifting Senate
House Bill 70, KFTC’s proposed constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to most former felons who have served their debt to society, has typically passed the state House overwhelmingly – with as many as 84 and as few as 70 of the hundred representatives voting yes and broad bipartisan support.
Where we’ve consistently hit a snag is in the Senate – where Senate President David Williams, State and Local Government Committee Chairman Damon Thayer, and a few other leaders, have prevented HB 70 from coming to a vote.
But this year, a lot has shifted in the Senate.
Senate President David Williams has left office to pursue a career as a judge, other leadership positions have shuffled around, there are 7 new senators (out of 38), and new chairs of key committees like State and Local Government (where the bill is likely to be assigned).
Senate President - Sen. Robert Stivers
President Pro Tempore - Sen. Katie Kratz Stine
Majority Floor Leader -Sen. Damon Thayer
Majority Caucus Chairman - Sen. Dan Seum
Majority Whip - Sen. Brandon Smith
Senate State and Local Government Committee - Sen. Joe Bowen [Chair], Sen. Stan Humphries [Vice Chair], Sen. Walter Blevins Jr., Sen. Ernie Harris, Sen. Christian McDaniel, Sen. Morgan McGarvey, Sen. Gerald A. Neal, Sen. R.J. Palmer II, Sen. Albert Robinson, Sen. Dan "Malano" Seum, and Sen. Damon Thayer
The shifts are both good and bad for HB 70’s prospects, but two of the five members of Republican senate leadership are strong supporters of HB 70 and it remains to be seen how much more freedom senators will have to follow their conscience now that David Williams is gone.
At any rate, we can do a lot more than wait and hope. We need to do all we can to educate legislators and put pressure on them to pass HB 70. Citizen lobbying in person in Frankfort is the best way to do that, but you can even make a big impact from your phone at home.
Can you take 2 minutes to pick up the phone and make a difference on this issue?
Call the Legislative Message Line (1-800-372-7181). The Message Line is open later than you'd think - 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. on Friday)
Leave a message for the "Senate State and Local Government Committee," "Senate Leadership," plus your own Senator and Representative.
Message: "Please support House Bill 70."
If you have an extra two minutes, please also ask a friend to call in.