Beshear vetoes sweeping crime bill and portion of state budget • Kentucky Lantern


Kentucky's Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear issued several vetoes Tuesday, including rejecting a sweeping anti-crime bill pushed by Jefferson County Republicans and soundly opposed by Democrats House law 5 is a costly and “unwieldy” bill.

HB 5, sponsored primarily by Rep. Jared Bauman, had faced opposition around the world broad political spectrum Conservative and progressive groups say the legislation needs further financial analysis before being implemented.

Beshear in his Veto message addressed that concern, among other things, saying that lawmakers had not provided a “fiscal impact analysis” with HB 5, even though it would have a “tremendous fiscal impact” on the Kentucky Department of Corrections and county governments.

The governor wrote that HB 5 contains “good parts” that would likely have received “unanimous support” as stand-alone bills, such as requiring that firearms used in murders be destroyed and “making auto theft a separate crime.”

Instead, he wrote, lawmakers have combined these good measures with dozens of other measures “that would criminalize homelessness and significantly increase incarceration costs without additional funding.”

Beshear also wrote that the Legislature is limiting the Kentucky Department of Corrections' ability to draw on excess funds when needed to pay county jails to house state inmates, costs that would rise under HB 5.

HB 5 imposes increased or new penalties, establishes a three-strikes rule for violent offenders and bans street camping. For prisoners convicted of violent crimes, HB 5 requires them to serve 85% of their sentence before being eligible for parole; These prisoners currently must serve 20% of their sentence before they are eligible for a sentence. HB 5 also classifies more felonies as violent crimes.

The Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police and some families of deceased crime victims have supported the bill.

Beshear also vetoed certain line items in state budget bills, along with other legislation supported by the Republican-dominated Legislature, including: Senate Bill 349, which creates new obstacles for utilities Shut down fossil fuel power plants; Senate Bill 299 creating a new state corporation monitoring horse racing and charity games; House Bill 622, creating open seats in the U.S. Senate to be filled through special elections; and Senate Bill 16, Criminalizing the use of drones and recording devices in meat processing plants and farms without the consent of the farm owners or managers.

Republicans hold a supermajority in each chamber, meaning they can easily override any of Beshear's vetoes.