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Historic legislation and protecting citizens

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The midpoint of the General Assembly has passed and we saw an historic piece of legislation in House Bill 70. The senate committee on state and local government heard testimony on House 70, which would restore voting rights to certain felons after a five-year waiting period with no repeat offenses. The committee room was “standing-room only” as we heard from the bill’s sponsors Representative Jesse Crenshaw and Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, as well as U.S. Senator Rand Paul. Through a senate committee substitute, I sought to strike a balance between the automatic restoration of voting rights to all who have completed sentences (and paid restitution for felony convictions) and a more measured approach which implements a five-year waiting period. This is appropriate since these are people who have violated substantial laws in our state such as drug trafficking, racketeering and embezzlement. Simply restoring automatic rights for all with felony convictions forfeits necessary accountability as they work to rejoin society. Recidivism rates are highest within three years for ex-inmates. For those who really do want to rejoin as rehabilitated citizens, they can earn their rights back. Also, the amendment keeps the current mechanism in place allowing ex-felons to pursue an executive pardon from the governor. The senate passed the bill, 34-4 and it now goes back to the House to consider the changes. The senate passed Senate Bill 60, which I co-sponsored. The bill updates many regulations of the concealed carry process in an effort to make it more efficient.  Finally, a bill of note that passed is Senate Bill 119. The bill sets up a medical review panel for lawsuits against healthcare providers. It consists of three doctors and their opinion is admissible to court. It is not a finding of law or an opinion. This measure will help prevent frivolous lawsuits, it will protect victims that are taken advantage of by unscrupulous attorneys and will keep healthcare providers focused on what they need to do rather than worrying about entering into expensive, frivolous litigation. (Senator Thayer represents the 17th Senate District, which includes southern Kenton County, as well as all of Grant and Scott counties.)