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This week at the State Capitol

Updated: Mar 9, 2020




 More top issues of the General Assembly’s 2020 session came into better focus this past week as legislative action hit high gear.

 In the Senate, members gave approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that could give the General Assembly authority to establish standards on restoring voting rights for certain felons, not including those who committed treason, election bribery, a sex offense, a violent crime, or an offense against a child.

 Kentucky law currently prohibits felons from voting unless they have their rights restored by the governor.

 Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order in December to restore voting rights to about 140,000 felons.

 Supporters of Senate Bill 62 say the legislation would build on this by giving Kentucky an enduring approach to restoring voting rights that isn’t susceptible to different approaches future governors might have on the issue.

 The bill passed the Senate 29-7 on Thursday and now goes to the House for consideration. If approved there, Kentucky voters would have the final say on the proposed constitutional amendment in November.

 Measures advancing in the House this past week include a bill that would establish a tax on vaping products. It would also increase the excise tax rate per unit and weight on snuff and chewing tobacco. Pipe tobacco and cigars would also see a wholesale tax increase from 15 to 25 percent, although cigarettes would not see a change. Supporters say the legislation, House Bill 32, would help decrease vaping among youth while generating needed revenue for the state.

 The bill was approved by the House 75-17 on Wednesday and delivered to the Senate.

 Other bills that took steps forward in the legislation process over the past week include measures on the following topics:

 Adoption leave. House Bill 390 would require employers to offer the same leave policies to adoptive parents as they offer to birth parents. The legislation was approved by the House 81-0 on Friday and now goes to the Senate.