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Beshear vetoes bill that could remove Louisville NAACP from West End TIF board

Raoul Cunningham speaks during a Louisville Branch NAACP presser on Senate Bill 259 on March 7, 2024.
Jacob Munoz
Raoul Cunningham speaks at a Louisville Branch NAACP presser on Senate Bill 259 on March 7, 2024.

Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a bill over the weekend that could boot Louisville’s NAACP branch from a major community organization’s board. State lawmakers can override his move when they reconvene this week.

Kentucky lawmakers created the West End Opportunity Partnership to promote redevelopment in Louisville’s majority-Black West End.

Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a measure Saturday that would allow the partnership to remove groups from the board if they don’t follow certain rules "to determine successors."

Last September, the board changed how certain organizations nominate board representatives. Instead of selecting a single person to represent them, they now have to offer two people for the board to choose from.

The partnership’s president, Laura Douglas, has pushed for Senate Bill 259 to enforce the rule change. It could cause Louisville’s NAACP branch to lose its board membership because they’ve refused to comply with the rule.

In his veto message, Beshear claimed the measure would allow the board to replace an organization with any other group it wants.

“The bill could allow outside influencers or organizations to take control of the board,” he wrote.

SB 259 doesn’t change the requirement that any board organization vacancies be filled by a group operating in the West End.

On Tuesday, the partnership released a statement defending its bylaw and recommending state lawmakers “affirm their vote.”

“We appreciate the confidence the General Assembly has placed in [w]est Louisville and the West End Opportunity Partnership Board,” the partnership said.

Raoul Cunningham, the president of Louisville’s NAACP branch, has said he believes both the bylaw and bill were introduced to target his group’s representative over concerns she’s raised about the board.

Cunningham said Monday that his group had previously contacted Beshear’s administration to discuss the bill, but declined to identify who they spoke to.

He added that his group is contacting members of the Kentucky legislature, who can override Beshear’s veto by simple majorities in both chambers.

“It's ridiculous that we’re spending time on what I consider to be this Mickey Mouse legislation,” Cunningham said, referencing other bills he believes are more important to Black Louisvillians, such as the failed Senate Bill 6 that would have banned diversion, equity and inclusion funding at public colleges in Kentucky.

Sen. Denise Harper Angel, a Democrat representing Louisville, filed the WEOP removal bill on behalf of Douglas. She provided an emailed statement through a legislative spokesperson.

“The Governor's veto of SB 259 is a part of the legislative process that I respect deeply. It highlights the importance of ongoing dialogue and engagement among all parties concerned,” Harper Angel said.

While the bill passed the Senate floor comfortably last month, it ran into some trouble from House lawmakers, who voted 51-39 for the bill. Ten representatives did not vote on the bill, and others changed their votes from ‘yes’ to ‘no’ while voting took place.

This story has been updated.

State government and politics reporting is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at
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