Omnibus Criminal Justice Bill Clears House Committee

An omnibus criminal justice bill filed by Louisville House Republicans was passed in a marathon meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday evening.

House Bill 5, also known as the Safer Kentucky Act, cleared the Judiciary Committee Thursday with a 13 to 5 vote, with one member passing on a vote, following the support of advocates and outcry from critics. 

Rep. Jared Bauman, R-Louisville, said the legislation has changed since it was filed last week. A significant change of interest to cities was a shift to sections 17 through 21, prohibiting unlawful camping. KLC worked with Bauman to make the changes on behalf of cities. According to Bauman, the change makes clear that the law would not interfere with resource allocations or funding made by a government. 

The omnibus legislation 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, and language aimed at reducing recidivism.

Several Republicans in the committee voiced concern with the bill. Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, passed her vote in committee as she “struggled,” saying the bill had “too much.” She was also concerned with the criminal approach as she has spent years incentivizing treatment options. 

Voting against the bill was a mix of Republicans and Democrats, including Representatives Lindsey Burke, D-Lexington, Steven Doan, R-Erlanger, Keturah Herron, D-Louisville, Nima Kulkarni, D-Louisville, and Savannah Maddox, R-Dry Ridge.