Kentucky voters will see two constitutional amendments on ballot

Published 11:50 am Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Kentucky voters will see two constitutional amendments on the November ballot following General Assembly action during the final days of the 2020 session.

It’ll be the second time around for Senate Bill 15, known as “Marsy’s Law,” which is named after a California murder victim whose mother was horrified to see her daughter’s accused killer in a grocery store a week after his arrest. Her brother, Henry Nicholas, has since crusaded to have the protections enacted by state legislatures nationwide.

Similar legislation was approved by Kentucky lawmakers in 2018 and won approval, with nearly 63 percent of the vote. However, in 2019 the Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously threw out the results, saying the form of the amendment that was published and submitted to the electorate for a vote was not the full text, and was instead a question. So, the proposed amendment was voided.

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This year the measure won easy approval from both the House and Senate, as did the enabling legislation, which would only take effect if voters approve the amendment.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Crofton, who sponsored the legislation, as he did two years ago, says it will provide support to tens of thousands of crime victims.

“This fall, Kentucky voters will again have an opportunity at the ballot box to guarantee vital Constitutional protection to individuals and families who currently face an alarming imbalance in our justice system,” he said. “I am confident that Kentuckians will overwhelmingly support Marsy’s Law once again, and that Kentucky crime victims will finally be granted the equal standing they deserve.”

The other measure that will appear is House Bill 405, sponsored by Rep Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, which changes the terms of some elected officials.

The ballot language will state: “Are you in favor of changing the term of Commonwealth’s Attorneys from six-year terms to eight-year terms beginning in 2030, changing the terms of judges of the district court from four-year terms to eight-year terms beginning in 2022, and requiring district judges to have been licensed attorneys for at least eight years beginning 8 in 2022?”

It also cleared both chambers on a bi-partisan vote, 76-7 in the House and 25-7 in the Senate.

Those two proposed Constitutional amendments were among 28 introduced during the 2020 General Assembly.

The Kentucky Constitution permits a maximum of four amendments to appear on the ballot and only during even-numbered years.