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Dozens of new Kentucky laws, including police conduct, school choice, etc. take effect Tuesday

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 5:35 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - In Kentucky, most new laws go into effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns. For the previous session, that’s Tuesday.

One of them, House Bill 126, raises the amount for a felony theft from $500 to $1,000, but also makes it so repeated thefts can be considered when determining if someone can be charged with a felony.

That’s a change that could mean people who previously would have been facing misdemeanors, will now face felonies.

“You could commit countless under $500 crimes and still be just charged with misdemeanor theft. While it allows it to be a little bit more of an increase and now that threshold is $1,000. However, for those repeat offenders it does make the penalties worse,” said Abe Mashni with Baldani Law Office.

Senate Bill 80 gives the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council more authority when it comes to decertifying officers who fail to act appropriately.

The head of the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police says they felt like you can’t have police reform unless you have the tools to get rid of the bad officers.

It also makes it so some misdemeanor convictions can lead to decertification.

“Dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, physical violence, sexual abuse. Crimes against a minor family or household. The council now has the ability to decertify these people. To get them out of the field in the state of Kentucky,” said Shawn Butler with the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police.

The law also makes it easier for agencies to get information on new hires coming from other departments and requires officers to intervene when it is safe and practical to do so if it is clear that another peace officer is engaging in excessive force.

“If you don’t step in when you can, that’s grounds for decertification and for us that’s huge,” Butler said.

And going forward, the way Senate vacancies will be filled in Kentucky has been changed. Senate Bill 228 requires the governor to select an appointee from a list of three names submitted by the same political party as the senator who vacated their seat.

House Bill 563, the School Choice bill, is also now in effect. But parts of it are being challenged in court by the Council for Better Education.

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