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Lawmakers return to Frankfort for final days of session

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Posted at 6:47 PM, Apr 14, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — With masks and gloves on, and plenty of hand sanitizer, lawmakers are back in Frankfort for the final two days of the legislative session.

For the second time in two weeks, the House was nearly empty as the majority of members voted from their offices or homes to practice social distancing.

In the Senate, business was almost as usual with most lawmakers in the chamber.

The House and Senate wasted no time in going through the governor's vetoes, and overriding several of them.

One of the first bills considered by the Senate was Senate Bill 2, also known as the voter ID bill.

It would require Kentuckians to have a photo ID to vote, and is championed by Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams.

SB 2 passed the House and Senate, but was vetoed earlier this month by Democrat Governor Andy Beshear.

Today in the Senate chamber, the arguments went down party lines once again.

"In an era where six House races were decided by single digits two years ago, it's important that everybody that attempts to vote, prove that they are who they say they are," said Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R - Scott).

"And yes, one vote can make a difference. But we want that one vote to be in a situation where everybody has access to it. Not being hindered from voting," said Sen. Reggie Thomas (D - Lexington).

Democrat Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey argued that in a time of a global pandemic, and when primaries have already been pushed back, it doesn't make sense for voting to be harder.

"Our county clerk's offices are closed, and people cannot go and get a drivers license even if they wanted to. We are standing here today making it harder for people to vote," said Sen. McGarvey (D - Louisville).

As it did earlier in this unprecedented session, SB 2 passed the Senate. This time by a 27-6 vote. Just after 6:00 pm, the House also voted to override the governor's veto of SB 2.

Other bills the House and Senate choose to override vetoes include SB 5, HB 150, HB 195, and HB 336.

Rep. Angie Hatton (D - Whitesburg) voted against HB 336, which would extend the deadline that a gubernatorial candidate would have to select a running mate until August before that year's general election.

"When we allow a governor to choose his running mate after the primary, we don't know who that unified slate is. I think that violates the whole spirit of running as a slate," said Rep. Hatton.

The House passed SB 15, which would expand legal rights of crime victims. It is also known as Marsy's Law.

Marsy's Law may be familiar to many Kentucky voters. The issue was on the ballot in 2018, and although it passed, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled against Marsy's Law.

As we reported In June 2019, the court’s ruling said lawmakers are required to provide voters with the entire amendment and the Secretary of State needs to publish the full text at least 90 days before voters vote. The court said the full text was not published on the ballot, and that is why the ruling was made.

Rep. Jason Nemes (R - Louisville) acknowledged he wasn't a huge proponent of Marsy's Law, but stood in support of its passage.

"In my district, 73% of the folks in Jefferson County voted for it. And 72% of the folks in Oldham County voted for it. Statewide, 868,932 Kentuckians voted for it, for a total of 63%. It's hard to get 63 Kentuckians to agree on anything, but they agree on this," said Rep. Nemes. "The people of Kentucky are smart. They knew what they were voting on. There was a very robust discussion here."