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Ky. Felon Voter Restoration 'Unlikely' to Pass

Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort.
Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort.

 A bill that would restore voting rights for thousands of Kentucky felons isn’t likely to pass this year.

Lawmakers say they could not reach an agreement over different versions of the proposed legislation.

GOP Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer previously amended the bill to include a five-year waiting period and not cover felons with multiple offenses. He says passage is unlikely this year. But bill sponsor state Rep. Jesse Crenshaw says Thayer is refusing to help with a compromise.

“It’s hard for me to deal with Sen. Thayer’s logic because of the fact that he is the man that has to act on calling the bill, calling even the senate committee substitute to not recede and he’s the only one that can do that,” Crenshaw said.

Thayer now says  his chamber is more concerned about passing a new state budget than what he calls “controversial legislation.” 

“We believe strongly in the waiting period that passed this chamber in a huge bipartisan majority earlier this session,” Thayer said.

House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover is a primary cosponsor of the legislation. He says he hasn’t spoken to Thayer on the issue in about a week, but says the Senate has refused to act on the bill.

“I just took it from my conversation that maybe there just wasn’t much room to move based on the wishes of the Senate and his caucus. But I mean, if he were to call me and say ‘we want to talk,’ we’d run down there.” 

Supporters of the proposed legislation have criticized Thayer’s changes, which would not affect about half of the felons the original bill was meant to help. The original measure would've affected an estimated 180,000 Kentuckians.

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