A coalition of Republican legislators fed up with violence around Louisville have filed an omnibus bill aimed at stunting violent crime.
House Bill 5, also known as the Safer Kentucky Act, was filed on Tuesday, the 6th Day of the legislative session, which coincided with National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
Sponsored by Rep. Jared Bauman, R-Louisville, the bill calls for increased penalties for violent crimes like murder. The bill also includes language that would create a three-strikes provision for persistent violent felony offenders, a defined carjacking crime, language aimed at reducing recidivism, and an attempt to regulate unlawful camping by mandating local governments not to adopt or enforce a policy that prohibits unlawful camping (sections 17 through 20 of the bill).
“The first duty of any civilized society is to protect its honest citizens from those that prey on its innocent fellow citizens,” Bauman said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Crime is something that directly impacts every single Kentuckian, and it is with a deep sense of purpose and value that we put forward the critical reforms in the Safer Kentucky Act.”
The Act comes after increased crime in the Louisville area and has been publicly discussed since September of last year.
The Safer Kentucky Act includes multiple bills and provisions:
Targeting Violent Persistent Felony Offenders – “Three Strikes Law”
Enhancing the Penalty for Fentanyl Delivery Causing Overdose Death
- Death by delivery constitutes murder for an individual who knowingly sells fentanyl or a fentanyl derivative to another person when the injection, ingestion, inhalation, or other introduction of the fentanyl or fentanyl derivative causes the death of such person.
- Adds trafficking of fentanyl to a Class B felony if the death of the victim occurs.
- Adds manslaughter to the violent offense statute.
Increasing the Penalty for Smuggling Contraband into a Detention Facility
- Increases the felony class for smuggling contraband substances within a jail, prison, or other type of detention center to a Class B felony.
- Substances such as fentanyl, carfentanil, and fentanyl derivatives.
Regulating Bail Funding Organizations – Madelynn’s Law
- It prevents charitable organizations from furnishing bail of $5,000 or more.
- It makes it unlawful to furnish bail, regardless of the amount, for a violent offense or for a person being held under a civil court order or warrant pursuant to Casey’s Law.
- Requires photo identification for any person who posts bail.
- Requires a charitable bail organization to maintain and make an annual report to the legislature and make it publicly available on the organization’s website.
The provision referred to as “Madelynn’s Law” to regulate bail funding organizations is named for Madelynn Troutt, a 17-year-old girl killed in a head-on collision with a man just hours after he was released from jail on bail posted by a nonprofit bail fund. The man was speeding down the wrong side of the road in a stolen vehicle.
Cracking Down on a Fleeing the Police – Jake’s Law
- Increases the penalty for fleeing or evading the police to a Class C felony.
- Prevents the defendant from being released on probation, shock probation, conditional discharge, or parole until he or she has served a minimum of 50% of their sentence.
The provision referred to as “Jake’s Law” to crack down on a person fleeing the police is named for Jake Luxemburger, a 10-year-old boy who was killed instantly in a collision with a man who led the police on a chase while driving a stolen vehicle.
Strengthening Shopkeeper’s Privilege
- Allows employees and business owners to use a reasonable amount of force necessary to protect themselves, to prohibit the escape of a person detained for theft, or to prevent the loss of goods for sale.
- Provides civil and criminal immunity for the worker and business owner.
Increasing Penalties for Attempted Murder
- Increases the penalties for those who are convicted of attempted murder to require them to serve a minimum of 85% of their sentence before they are eligible for early release.
- Adds attempted murder to the violent offense statute.
- If a violation occurs, a person shall be fined up to $500 and ordered to participate in up to 40 hours of community service.
Supporting Successful Re-Entry for Those Leaving Incarceration
- Requires the Transportation Cabinet to issue a personal identification card or operator’s license for an eligible felony offender released after serving his or her sentence.
- Currently, the Transportation Cabinet only does this for those released from state facilities.
- Requires regular evaluations of state programs designed to support re-entry and reduce recidivism.
- Establishes the crime of carjacking in the Commonwealth.
- It makes carjacking a Class B felony.
- Changes the felony amount of vandalism damage to $500.
- Allows for charges to be a Class B misdemeanor if the defendant, prior to trial, effects repair or replacement of the damaged property, completes community service, or makes complete reimbursement in the amount of the damages.
- Prevents a person from being eligible for probation, parole, conditional discharge, conditional release, or any other form of release prior to the completion of their sentence if, in the commission of the offense, they used a firearm that was possessed in a violation of state law, including firearms which are stolen or defaced.
- Ease requirements to enable mentally ill accused criminals to receive treatment.
- Removes the requirement of a demonstrated history of criminal behavior to qualify for involuntary confinement.
Modifying Rules on Auction of Confiscated Murder Weapons
- Allows ordinary citizens (without Federal Firearms License) to bid at Kentucky State Police (KSP) auctions with the provision that any murder weapon they purchase will be destroyed by KSP.
- Prevents the use of any taxpayer funds in bidding on confiscated murder weapons.
Combating Street Camping to Improve Rights of Property Owners
- Imposes a ban on street camping on public streets, sidewalks, paths, or public areas normally used by pedestrians and/or vehicles, private property, homes, or businesses in any way.
- Provides that property owners shall not be held criminally liable for any actions taken to defend themselves from the aggressive actions of a person refusing to vacate an illegal street camp, and any such aggression by the camper can be prosecuted as assault.
- Allows a prosecutor to seek the death penalty or life in prison if there is evidence to show that a first responder was intentionally killed while in lawful performance of their duties.
- Requires the offender to pay compensation to the family of the victim.
Reforming the Parole Board
- Requires a unanimous vote of three to six-member panels to approve parole.
- Allows for a two-thirds vote of the membership of the full board to approve parole.
Hardening Sentences for Adults Using Juveniles as Criminal Accomplices
- Provides that any person over the age of 18 years of age who engages in a criminal conspiracy with a minor shall be charged one level higher than the level provided for the offense.
Cracking Down on Drive by Shooters
- Increases the penalty for wanton endangerment in the first degree to a Class C felony if the person discharges a firearm in the commission of the offense.
- Adds this provision to the violent offense statute.
Protecting Places of Business from Threats of Mass Violence
Addressing Threats or Plans of Violence Intended to Target Schools
- Requires a school employee who knows or has reasonable cause to believe that a person has made threats or plans of violence that are intended to target a school or students or who knows that a firearm is present on school property and shall immediately report the matter to law enforcement.
Updating Witness Intimidation Statute
- Adding harassing communications to the witness intimidation statute.
- Harassing communications such as telephone, mail, or any form of electronic or written communication in a manner that causes annoyance or alarm and serves no purpose of legitimate communication.
- Increasing penalties for people who repeatedly violate orders of protection to a Class D felony.
Forty-five members of the House have co-sponsored the bill, and the sponsor expects more support in the coming weeks.