(KY) This Week at the State Capitol

January 26, 2018

This Week at the State Capitol

Proposed constitutional amendment on victims’ rights is first measure approved by General Assembly in 2018

FRANKFORT — The first bill passed by both chambers of the General Assembly this year is a measure that will allow voters to decide on a “bill of rights” for crime victims.

Senate Bill 3, more commonly known as Marsy’s Law, proposes adding a section to the Kentucky Constitution to give crime victims constitutional rights similar to those afforded to the convicted or accused.

The right to notice of proceedings, the right to reasonable protection from the accused, and the right to legal “standing,” which would give victims the constitutional right to assert their rights in court, are some of the rights included in Marsy’s Law.

Kentucky currently has crime victims’ rights listed in statute, but not in the state’s constitution.

Whether Kentucky amends the state constitution to join at least 6 other states that have adopted Marsy’s Law will ultimately be left up to the voters this fall.

Other bills and resolutions that advanced in the General Assembly this week include:

· SB 71 would require the inclusion of abstinence education in any sexual education curriculum offered by schools. The bill would not limit sex education to an abstinence-only curriculum. The measure was approved by the Senate on Jan. 24 by a 32-5 vote and has been sent to the House for further consideration.

· House Concurrent Resolution 34 asks the federal drug control agencies to accelerate research on the “safety and effectiveness” of medical marijuana. HCR 34 passed the House 73-5 on Jan. 24 and now goes to the Senate for consideration. If approved by both chambers, the resolution would be sent to the FDA, National Institute on Drug Abuse and Drug Enforcement Administration.

· SB 37, which was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee on Jan. 24, would allow some federal and state prisoners to get driver’s licenses so they could participate in work programs or re-entry initiatives outside of prison walls. The bill now goes to the Senate floor for further consideration.

· SB 68 was approved to clarify that a victim of domestic violence is not required to pay the legal fees of a spouse in a divorce action when the spouse is incarcerated for crimes against the petitioner. Under current state law, someone seeking a divorce against an incarcerated person can be held responsible for paying the incarcerated person’s court-appointed lawyer, even when the imprisonment is the result of spousal abuse. The bill was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 25 and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

· House Bill 75, which would give local governments more ways to increase revenue, is on its way to the Senate after passing the House by 95-0 vote on Jan. 23. The bill would allow cities and counties to pursue more aggressive investment through mutual, closed-end and exchange-traded funds and high-quality corporate bonds, all within certain limits and under the guidance of a professional investment adviser.

· SB 72 would curtail the time-honored tradition of naming state buildings and roads after living politicians in Kentucky. The legislation would specifically prohibit the naming of any state building, transportation project, program or initiative after a living statewide current or former constitutional officer, state legislator, state judge or state employee. SB 72 was approved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Jan. 24 and now goes to the Senate floor for further consideration.

If you’d like to share feedback on issues under consideration with state lawmakers, please call the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.

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