The Richmond Register

Local News

January 14, 2014

Restoring some felons’ voting rights gets broad support

FRANKFORT — Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, hopes this is the year he finally sees passage of a constitutional amendment allowing felons who’ve paid their debt to society to have their voting rights automatically restored.

Crenshaw, who is retiring from the General Assembly after this year, has pushed the bill for years. He’s seen it pass the Democratic controlled House seven times in seven years. Then each time, he’s seen it die in the Republican controlled Senate without a vote.

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs, again passed Crenshaw’s latest attempt without a single no vote — although Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Ft. Thomas passed.

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, is co-sponsoring the bill with Crenshaw this time and Hoover urged its passage Tuesday, saying, “It’s a matter of fairness.”

“I think we are a forgiving society,” Hoover said, adding he’s supported Crenshaw’s previous bills. “When folks have carried out what the courts have imposed on them, I think it’s just a matter of fairness.”

Republicans have traditionally opposed such measures, fearing the ex-felon population would be more likely to vote Democratic. Even Hoover, alluded to that perception among his party, but said it doesn’t matter because “basic fairness” argues for the measure.

Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has presidential aspirations and has openly sought to broaden his appeal to constituencies usually seen as unsympathetic to Republican ideology, also supports the move.

Less than two hours after the House committee’s vote, Paul issued a statement applauding the move.

“I applaud the (committee) for passing House Bill 70,” Paul said in the statement. “A government of, by and for the people is only possible with a free right to vote. I am committed to securing this right for the people of the commonwealth.”

Paul went on to urge passage by the House — but the House has passed the measure seven times previously. It’s in the Republican Senate where Paul’s influence might be crucial. State Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, has previously said he wants to link passage of Crenshaw’s measure with one to require voters to have photo identification in order to vote.

Crenshaw said he’s hopeful Paul will influence Republican state senators to support his measure, independently of other issues.

“I hope (Paul) would in fact speak with those in the Senate and urge them to call it for a vote, both in committee and on the floor,” Crenshaw said. “But I look with optimism toward the Senate.”

Crenshaw said the bill would affect between 129,000 and 180,000 Kentuckians who have been convicted of non-violent felonies and completed their sentences, probation and restitution requirements. His amendment, if approved by voters, would automatically restore voting rights to those who complete sentences for all but four types of felonies.

Anyone convicted of intentional murder, rape, sodomy or a sex offense with minors would not be eligible automatically.

Kentucky remains one of three states which do not automatically restore such voting rights. The others are Florida and Iowa. Virginia’s governor recently changed that state’s procedure by executive order to allow automatic restoration.

Under Kentucky’s current constitution, ex-felons may apply to the governor who can restore voting rights.

Crenshaw’s measure is supported by a variety of groups including the League of Women Voters and the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.

Father Patrick Delahanty of the Catholic Conference said the current system of appeal to the governor is “arbitrary” which allows restoration of voting rights “for some felons but not for others and by some governors but not by others.”

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

Text Only
Local News
  • 4-23 Gravestone.jpg In search of the last resting place

    At a popular illegal dump site off Bybee Loop in Waco, two marble grave markers were among some items found there by Pat and Ronnie Aldridge, residents who live about 250 yards from the area.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fiscal court awards EMA bids

    Two more bids were awarded at Tuesday’s Madison County Fiscal Court meeting for the emergency operations agency.

    April 22, 2014

  • 4-23 Peter Crowe.jpg Intoxicated man charged with wanton endangerment

    A 27-year-old Richmond man was charged Sunday with second-degree wanton endangerment after he was found intoxicated and walking with several young children in the Keystone Drive area, according to a Richmond police report.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Absentee voting available for May 20 election

    Walk-in absentee voting for the May 20 primary has begun and will continue until May 19, County Clerk Kenny Barger announced Tuesday at the Madison Fiscal Court meeting.

    April 22, 2014

  • 4-23 Tab-a-PULLooza1.jpg Friday last day to collect pop tabs for Tab-a-Pullooza

    Before throwing that soda can in the recycling bin, twist off the pop tab and donate it to a local elementary or middle school for this year’s Tab-a-Pullooza celebration.

    April 22, 2014 4 Photos

  • Pot throwing downtown leads to arrest

    A Berea man was arrested Saturday after police say he damaged a downtown Richmond business and a parked vehicle by throwing flower pots.
    Jonathan A. McCullough, 34, was charged with first- and third-degree criminal mischief as well as alcohol intoxication, according to a Richmond police report.

    April 21, 2014

  • London police chief ordered to stay away from Berea woman

    A woman who who moved to Berea in February 2013 after a live-in relationship with London Police Chief Stewart O. Walker has obtained an emergency protective order against him from Madison Family Court.

    April 21, 2014

  • Task force reveals plan to make ‘Meaningful Math' matter

    It’s all too common to hear parents say, “I was never good at math...,” as if to excuse their children for not being good at math, said Madison County Schools Superintendent Elmer Thomas.

    April 21, 2014

  • WP_20140419_001.jpg Cruisin’ with the Oldies

    With the sound of classic songs wafting through the air Saturday, hundreds of people took advantage of the summer-like temperatures and turned out for the Kirksville Community Center car show.

    April 21, 2014 9 Photos

  • 4-18 Hong Kong 1.JPG Hong Kong fifth-graders visit Kit Carson

    A group of students from Hong Kong got a taste of the bluegrass last week thanks to an invitational education program at Kit Carson Elementary School.

    April 21, 2014 3 Photos

AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

     View Results