A sampling of bad bills on the move

Bruce Maples
Bruce Maples

Making a list of ALL the bad bills in Frankfort would take too long to read (and also too long to write). You can visit our Key Legislation and Monitoring bill trackers to see them all.

So, here is a sampling of bad bills that are actually past the “Introduced” and “Sent to Committee on Committees” stages. (We will also do a list of good bills on the move – but it may be shorter. 🙃)

SB 44 — The “Riot Act”

This bill is obviously aimed at the Breonna Taylor protests that took place in Louisville last year. It begins by putting in place an amorphous definition of “riot,” then proceeds to pile on punishments for anyone involved in a “riot.”

Start with this excellent definition (note the words “tumultous” and “obstructs”):

“Riot” means a public disturbance involving an assemblage of five (5) or more persons which by tumultuous and violent conduct creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons or substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government function;

So, five people staging a peaceful protest in front of City Hall are a riot, because they are somewhat in the way of people entering the building. Got it.

Then, we get what happens to those five peaceful protesters:

  • Enhanced prison terms for crimes convicted during a riot
  • Restrict when a person may be released after an arrest during a riot
  • Create crime of unlawful camping on property owned by the Commonwealth
  • Add crimes committed during a riot to definition of “violent offender”
  • Require “gross negligence” as a cause of action for property damaged by a riot that a local government could have prevented

There is a matching bill in the House. Both of them need to be thrown in the trash.

SB 50 – Expand the school voucher program

Here we go again: taking money from public schools and giving people a big tax break for doing so. This bill expands the eligibility for so-called “Educational Opportunity Accounts” to 200% of household income that qualifies for reduce-price school lunch. (If you are a family of four, you can make up to $98,000 a year and still get one of these vouchers to help pay your private school tuition.) Oh, and this bill expands the EOA program to the entire state, rather than just the big cities.

SB 63 — Limit open records

We’ve already addressed this bill in depth; see the article “A remarkably ill-conceived, unworkable, and fundamentally unnecessary bill”

SB 83 — Trans athlete ban

Those scary trans people have our legislators running scared – right into filing yet another bill to make sure none of those scary trans people play sports. If you read the bill, you will note that it specifically says that males transitioning to female may not participate in female sports – but there is no mention of females transitioning to male participating in male sports.

SB 84 — No gender transition procedures for under-18

More worry about that scary thing known as “trans.” From the bill’s summary: “Prohibit the provision of or referral for gender transition procedures to any child under the age of 18 years; define a violation as unprofessional conduct and acting recklessly for purposes of tort claims; permit an action on a violation to be taken by the parent or guardian of the child before the child attains the age of 18 years and by the child within 30 years of the child attaining the age of 18 years, with exceptions under which the time may be longer.”

SB 93 — Vax exceptions

Of course, we have to have at least one anti-vax bill. From the bill’s summary: “Require employers that mandate employee immunization to allow exceptions based on religious belief or conscientious objection to immunizations.” Got to love the language. Can I have a conscientious objection to getting a driver’s license?

SB 120 — School district police

Believe it or not, this bill allows school districts to set up their own police departments. From the bill’s summary: “Allow local boards of education to establish a police department for local school districts; provide the general police powers each officer shall have in performing their duties.”

If you read the bill text, you find these additional gems (actual text from the bill):

  • They shall have general police powers including the power to arrest, without process, all persons who within their view commit any crime or misdemeanor.
  • They shall possess all of the common law and statutory powers, privileges, and immunities of sheriffs.
  • Such police officers shall exercise the powers herein granted upon any real property owned or occupied by the local board of education, including any streets passing through and adjacent thereto. Said powers may be exercised where the local board of education owns, uses, or occupies property.
  • Police officers appointed pursuant to Section 1 of this Act shall have, in addition to the other powers enumerated herein, the power to conduct investigations anywhere in this Commonwealth, provided the investigation relates to criminal offenses which occurred on property owned, leased, or controlled by the employing school district.

SJR 24 — Call Constitutional Convention

Supposedly, the purpose of the called Constitutional Convention would be to put in place term limits for Congress.

Here’s the thing, though: Once you call such a convention, the entire Constitution is up for grabs. It’s called parliamentary procedure, and unless the call itself puts such a narrow scope on the agenda that everything else is out of order, AND the chair and the body agree that anything else is out of order, THEN you can start making motions to amend on anything.

So, yes, we think this is a really bad idea. Really, really bad.

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Watch for more articles about good bills and bad bills in this year’s General Assembly. They’ll keep filing them, and we’ll keep writing about them.

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Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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