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Ky. lawmakers finish up work on final day of 2021 regular session

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 11:09 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The 2021 legislative session is winding down in Frankfort, and the last two days have been jam-packed with movements of some controversial bills, from school choice to the limitations on no-knock warrants.

Monday’s developments at the Capitol were mostly about voting to override the governor’s previous vetoes. Tuesday’s focus was hearing bills still waiting for final passage, including the no-knock warrant bill that first passed the Senate more than a month ago.

As the clock ticked closer to midnight Tuesday, lawmakers were losing time on the 2021 legislative session with a handful of bills to still vote on.

One getting the most attention was the final passage of Senate Bill 4, a bill limiting no-knock warrants.

“All eyes in the world have been on Kentucky since March of last year when Breonna Taylor died in such terrible circumstances,” Rep. Angie Hatton said.

The bill requires a three-person sign-off before a no-knock warrant is issued. Tuesday afternoon, a handful of House amendments added that requires an EMT to be in the vicinity, officers must wear clothing with clear markings that identify them as police, and if protocols aren’t followed, any evidence collected would not be admissible in court.

The debate before the vote turned passionate Tuesday afternoon. Republican Chris Fugate stood by police, saying they’re not all bad cops. Democrat Pamela Stevenson spoke for her own experience with racial bias.

“There’s nobody that dislikes the bad actors as much as the good police officers. For what the badge stands for, what the uniform stands for,” Rep. Fugate said.

“There are good police officers, and when I call 911 I want one to come with a gun. But what you said about putting love back in, is what’s needed. For all people,” Rep. Stevenson said.

Senate Bill 4 is not like the House bill, known as Breonna’s Law, that would have banned no-knock warrants altogether, and some lawmakers say they hope this isn’t the last time the legislation is discussed.

“I don’t think anybody thinks that this compromised version of the bill is perfect, but I think it is actually a really good start,” Rep. Hatton said.

All three of these lawmakers voted to pass the bill.

The Senate unanimously concurred with the amendments and now it goes to the governor’s desk.

Lawmakers also passed some other bills Tuesday. House Bill 91 creates a constitutional amendment that says there’s no right to an abortion in Kentucky. That’s if voters approve it in 2022, and if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe V. Wade.

Senate Bill 48 restricts access to public information about judges, police and prosecutors.

Governor Beshear had already vetoed House Bill 312, which restricts access to public records, but lawmakers overrode that veto.

Senate Bill 146 would require the state labor cabinet to open a dozen regional unemployment offices by April 15.

Lawmakers also passed a handful of bills that would spend more than a billion dollars, including House Bill 382. There are several things included in it, like more than half a billion dollars to pay back a loan for unemployment insurance.

The bill also pays for full-day kindergarten, and puts dollars toward rural broadband.

Lawmakers could be called back into a special session later this year to determine how to spend more money from the latest rescue plan passed by congress.

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