State sen. files bill to make Juneteenth state holiday

State sen. files bill to make Juneteenth state holiday
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 9:17 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A new bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday was filed in the General Assembly Tuesday. It comes after lawmakers promised to pass legislation recognizing the holiday years ago.

In 2020, at the height of Black Lives Matter protests, Kentucky senators promised to make Juneteenth a state holiday, but a bill was never filed.

When asked why a bill was never filed, Senate President Robert Stivers said, “We were working on so many big issues, and under the limited circumstances we had in a short period of time, it probably slipped to through the cracks, but I apologize for that not getting through.”

Last year, Senator Gerald Neal filed Senate Bill 318 to make Juneteenth a state holiday, but it never made it out of the Senate Committee on State and Local Government. However, the House passed its version of the bill House Bill 133, filed by representative James Brown of Lexington.

“I think it’s an opportunity for us to discuss issues, and there’s all kinds of things you can do around that,” said Senator Neal. “This is not just about black folks bringing attention to something. It’s about all of us.”

Tuesday, Senator Neal filed Senate Bill 270, on the last day to file senate bills during the 2023 session.

“Black history is American history, and it’s very important for us to understand what that really means,” said Senator Neal. “Seems simple to say that, but the fact of the matter is is that they are not part. They are integrally entwined.”

Juneteenth has been a federal holiday since 2021.

Since 2020, Governor Beshear has signed a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. These proclamations do not make Juneteenth a state holiday and a new one must be signed each year.

Senate Bill 270 has not been assigned to a committee yet.