Day 17 of the 60-day legislative session saw the omnibus criminal justice bill filed by Louisville House Republicans clear the full House of Representatives despite lengthy debate, objections, and several procedural challenges to the bill.
House Bill 5, the Safer Kentucky Act, passed the full House on Thursday with a 73 to 22 vote.
Rep. Jared Bauman, R-Louisville, added a handful of changes to the legislation via a floor amendment. The amendment includes a prohibition of early release for specific firearm offenses, removes the ability to prosecute for murder for selling fentanyl that results in death, offers immunity for those experiencing an overdose, and makes clear that repossession of a vehicle would not qualify as carjacking.
The bill’s sponsor worked with KLC recently to amend House Bill 5 to make the changes on behalf of cities. The changes make clear that the law would not interfere with resource allocations or funding made by a government and addressed cause of action (sections 17 – 21 of the bill).
Several bill opponents attempted procedural motions to halt the legislation from moving forward, but those challenges were defeated.
Passions were high as the debate rolled forward, with Rep. Lindsey Burke, D-Lexington, calling the Safer Kentucky Act “the worst ideas in criminology.”
Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, a retired Kentucky State Police Trooper, fired back against some of the attacks, adding, “We have a responsibility to protect our citizens.”
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.
The legislation heads to the Senate for consideration.