As a result of doing the KYGA Update newsletter every morning (a perk for Members), I have read at least the summary of every bill filed this year. And I can tell you, the majority of bills are not bad. Some of them are actually quite good, and I’ll have an article about those bills tomorrow.
But, in the 1,500 (!) bills filed this year, there are some that are really bad. In fact, there are some that are horribly destructive. Out of the 70 bills we at ForwardKY oppose, this article lists what I consider to be the 13 worst.
Obviously, opinions vary. Other analysts and activists might have chosen differently. But in my view, these are bills that either do immediate damage to our state and its people, or have the potential to cause significant damage in the future.
Most of them you will have heard of. On the other hand, some have barely been discussed in the media or in the various activist groups I’m involved in.
And finally, if you want to do something about these bills, call the LRC Comment Line at 800-372-7181 and leave a message for legislators asking them to stop that bill. (Start with your own legislators, then expand.)
Here, then, are my choices for the 15 worst bills still moving in the General Assembly.
HB 8 – Eliminate Income Tax for Funding KY Government
This is, by far, the worst bill filed this year. In fact, it may be the worst bill filed in the past two or three decades. Why? Because, if fully enacted, it will ultimately blow such a giant hole in the state budget that everything the state does will have to be cut ... and cut drastically. We’re talking schools, colleges, health care, infrastructure, public services – you name it.
We’ve written extensively about this bill. Here is the main article about it that I posted some days ago. If you want to learn more about why this bill is top of the list, read this article.
Every session, the forced-birth caucus pushes through more restrictions on abortions. And every session, they get sued for doing so.
Now that it is possible to get abortion pills through the mail, which makes it much harder to outlaw by the leges, they’ve decided to make it harder to get the pills.
And of course, the “limit abortions to 15 weeks” sounds like a compromise – until you consider, for example, abortions performed for fetal birth defect reasons, or to save the life of the mother.
SB 88 – General Assembly Call Itself Into Session
Considering the damage our leges can do in just sixty days, do we want them to be able to meet again and again? This bill allows them to “save” days for use later in the year, including all the way to December 31.
HB 7 – Attack on the Safety Net
Just like the abortion bills, every session the Republicans pass something to further shred our state’s safety net. They cut benefits, make it harder to file for them, require all sorts of additional record-keeping, and anything else they can think up to force people to finally give up and just go hungry, or homeless, or sick, or all three.
And why? Because they believe (and say) that anyone on Medicaid, or food stamps, or unemployment, is just “lazy” and “shiftless” and “taking advantage of the system.” They prattle on about “fraud” and “get a job,” all the while they are giving tax breaks to their wealthy friends.
Here we go again – instead of actually valuing our public schools, the Repubs want to take money away from them. And while we’re at it, let’s give people a tax credit (not just a deduction) for helping us hurt our schools.
SB 120 – Police Departments for Schools
If the short title of this bill gives you the willies, it absolutely should. This bill allows schools districts to set up their own police force – and gives the officers in those forces the same powers as other law enforcement officers, including the power to arrest. Check out this one sentence 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.”
Go read the entire bill. It is a disaster waiting to happen.
Apparently, most of our leges just can’t wrap their minds around the concept of gender identity versus genitalia. And since they can’t understand it — or they think it is too weird — they just want it to go away. One way to make it go away is to legislate against it, and make even the discussion of it illegal. Oh and by the way, if you simply refer someone for gender transition, or even for the discussion of it, you can be sued not only by the parents of that person, but also by that person themselves for up to 30 years after the referral. How’s THAT for chilling the discussion?
And of course, we’ve got to protect our girls’ athletics teams from the swarms of boys that are “going trans” just so they can win at sports. Yep, that’s a real problem. Not.
HB 313 – Outlaw Bail Funding Organizations
We’ve all read the stories about persons getting out on bail who then commit other crimes. What doesn’t get discussed is that such incidents happen no matter how the person makes bail – and, new crimes by persons released on bail are rare, no matter what the headlines tell you.
But the biggest problem with this bill is that it is going after the symptom and not the disease. Wealth-based incarceration is the problem; the well-off can make bail, and the poor are held for days or weeks or months without being convicted of a crime. (What happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?)
If the lege wants to do something about bail funding organizations, get rid of cash bail and move to the Federal system. This bill is just a reaction to headlines, and doesn’t address the real issue.
SB 44 – “Riot” Act
And finally, we have another over-reaction bill, The Riot Act. Not only is this an obvious indignant reaction by white legislators to the protests about Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, it is also one of the worst-written bills I have ever read.
Check out this definition of “riot”:
“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.
How’s that for a clear, legally-defensible definition? What does “tumultous and violent conduct” mean”? At what point are you guilt of “substantially obstructs law enforcement”? According to this bill, a peaceful sit-in qualifies as a riot.
If our legislature cared as much about fixing our broken justice system as it does about jailing protestors, maybe we wouldn’t need ridiculous bills like this one.
There you have it – my choices for some bad bills that still have a chance of passing. Let’s hope they all die a quick, effective death before that happens.
And check back tomorrow for a list of good bills that also have a chance of passing. Yes, Virginia, there actually are some good bills – and we have a list.