Ky. House passes anti-crime bill

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2024

After some two hours of debate, an omnibus anti-crime bill dubbed by supporters “The Safer Kentucky Act,” was approved by the Kentucky House of Representatives in late January.

The measure, House Bill 5, is sponsored by Rep. Jared Bauman, R-Louisville, and has 49 co-sponsors.

Bauman told the chamber the measure was the result of nine months of collaboration with stakeholders, including crime victims and their families.

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“With this bill, we are reasserting some simple truths: the difference between right and wrong, that criminals are accountable for their actions, and that society has the right to protect itself from the criminal element.

“The first duty of any civilized society is to protect its honest citizens from those who prey on the innocent.  House Bill 5 is ensuring that we have the strongest and most effective policy possible.”

Here are some of what appears in the measure:

• It includes a so-called “Three Strikes” provision, meaning that a person convicted of three violent felonies would receive a life prison sentence.

• Someone convicted of fentanyl trafficking where the drug user dies, would be subject to a manslaughter charge.     

• Street camping would be banned except in designated areas.

• Those convicted of killing a police officer could face the death penalty.

• Carjacking would be a class B felony, with a 10- to 20-year prison term.  It is currently considered robbery in Kentucky.

Rep. Sarah Stalker, D-Louisville, was among those speaking against the measure.  “This bill, in my opinion, lacks compassion for our most vulnerable population experiencing homelessness.”

She added: “This policy laid out in this bill along with cuts contemplated in the House budget, is going to put us as a state in a real predicament, when our number of incarcerated individuals increases, putting us in worse shape than they were before.”

The measure passed 74-22 and now heads to the Senate for its consideration.