Senate approves felon voting bill after making major changes - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Senate approves felon voting bill after making major changes

Sen. Rand Paul Sen. Rand Paul
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer
Rep. Jesse Crenshaw Rep. Jesse Crenshaw
Tayna Fogle Tayna Fogle

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky's Senate approved the restoration of voting rights for thousands of former felons, but changed the legislation to impose a five-year waiting period.

Before the Senate voted 34-4 on Wednesday Republicans said their amendment was necessary to move the issue forward. House Bill 70's backers said it wouldn't be an improvement over the current process, in which felons must appeal to Kentucky's governor to regain the right to vote.

The hour-long debate during a committee hearing earlier in the day included a visit from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, who testified in support of the bill and said the compromise satisfied him.

"I think five years is a lot less than infinity (not being able to vote) so I think it's progress in the right direction," Paul said. "I think it's a huge step forward."

A standing room-only crowd packed the committee hearing room and Capitol staff set up an overflow room.

The Senate's changes include a requirement that a person who commits a new offense would be banned from voting forever. The House can either agree to the Senate's version or send the bill to a conference committee to work out the differences.

"I will work as hard as I can to make changes," said bill sponsor Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington. "No, I do not think it's as good as House Bill 70."

Democrats said of the 180,000 Kentucky felons eligible to regain their voting rights, the changes would hurt about 100,000 of them.

Senate Republicans said they wouldn't support automatic restoration of voting rights.

"I respect those who disagree with the approach, but I'm going to tell you that House Bill 70 without amendments is not going to get called up for a vote in the Kentucky State Senate," Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said. "This is your best chance to keep this bill moving forward."

A group of former felons attended the committee hearing and said they were surprised by the changes.

"I feel drained and very disappointed in what the committee did," said Tayna Fogle of Lexington, who was convicted of crack cocaine possession in 1991 and regained her voting rights by appealing to two governors.

Others compared the five-year waiting period with an extension of the criminal sentence.

"We could possibly accept that five-year period if you were to say a felon wouldn't have to pay taxes during that period," said Raoul Cunningham, president of the Louisville branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover, who supports the restoration of voting rights, said he had some issues with the changes, but was glad to see the issue pass the Senate.

"At least we're at a point that we've never been before," he said.

The House has passed the bill in recent years but is has never come up for a vote in the Senate. House lawmakers approved the automatic restoration of voting rights in January on a 82-12 vote.

Copyright 2014 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

  • NewsMore>>

  • After years of dejection, proponents of gun laws see hope

    After years of dejection, proponents of gun laws see hope

    Saturday, February 24 2018 10:35 AM EST2018-02-24 15:35:23 GMT
    Sunday, February 25 2018 11:00 AM EST2018-02-25 16:00:32 GMT
    The progression has become numbingly repetitive - mass bloodshed unleashed by a gunman, followed by the stories of the fallen, the funerals and mourning. (Source: AP Photos)The progression has become numbingly repetitive - mass bloodshed unleashed by a gunman, followed by the stories of the fallen, the funerals and mourning. (Source: AP Photos)

    "Our kids have started a revolution:" Teens' activism after Florida school shooting has some hopeful for action on gun policy.

    More >>

    "Our kids have started a revolution:" Teens' activism after Florida school shooting has some hopeful for action on gun policy.

    More >>
  • Political end to Olympics: NKorea offers talks with US

    Political end to Olympics: NKorea offers talks with US

    Sunday, February 25 2018 2:16 AM EST2018-02-25 07:16:08 GMT
    Sunday, February 25 2018 10:59 AM EST2018-02-25 15:59:45 GMT
    (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky). A volunteer walks in a foggy Pyeongchang Olympic Plaza during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky). A volunteer walks in a foggy Pyeongchang Olympic Plaza during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.

    Pyeongchang closes its chapter of the modern Olympics on Sunday night with tales of detente and competitive grit and volunteerism and verve.

    More >>

    Pyeongchang closes its chapter of the modern Olympics on Sunday night with tales of detente and competitive grit and volunteerism and verve.

    More >>
  • 2 dead as severe weather moves eastward through central US

    2 dead as severe weather moves eastward through central US

    Sunday, February 25 2018 2:25 AM EST2018-02-25 07:25:46 GMT
    Sunday, February 25 2018 10:57 AM EST2018-02-25 15:57:43 GMT
    (Liz Dufour/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP). A view from the Central Bridge shows the flooding from the Ohio River  Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Cincinnati.  Forecasters expected the Ohio River could reach levels not seen since the region's deadly 1997 f...(Liz Dufour/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP). A view from the Central Bridge shows the flooding from the Ohio River Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Cincinnati. Forecasters expected the Ohio River could reach levels not seen since the region's deadly 1997 f...

    A man in northeast Arkansas and a woman in south central Kentucky both were killed as the storm that also included strong winds, hail and heavy rain that triggered flooding muscled its way through the area, according to authorities.

    More >>

    A man in northeast Arkansas and a woman in south central Kentucky both were killed as the storm that also included strong winds, hail and heavy rain that triggered flooding muscled its way through the area, according to authorities.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly