Bill targeting source-of-income discrimination bans heads to governor’s desk

Published 2:44 pm Thursday, February 29, 2024

By Liam Niemeyer, Kentucky Lantern

Legislation that critics say would undermine ordinances in Lexington and Louisville that ban discrimination by landlords against a prospective tenant’s source of income is headed to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk.

House Bill 18, sponsored by Rep. Ryan Dotson, R-Winchester, won final passage Tuesday in the Kentucky House of Representatives after the Kentucky Senate had made changes to the bill. Beshear now has 10 days, excluding Sundays, to consider whether to veto the measure or sign it into law.

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HB 18 would prevent local governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances that require landlords to accept federal housing assistance vouchers from tenants for rent. That would include low-income housing assistance vouchers known as “Section 8” vouchers and vouchers that help homeless veterans.

Critics have said the bill would preempt ordinances, one passed by Louisville in 2020 and another passed this month by Lexington, that ban landlords from rejecting a potential tenant exclusively on their source of income, including the use of housing assistance vouchers.

Republicans have touted the legislation as a way to protect the constitutional property rights of landlords from local overreach, rejecting arguments from Democrats that the bill targets low-income Kentuckians.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, hinted his Republican-controlled legislative chamber would be ready to override a veto from Beshear potentially.

“We’ll see what the governor does with the bill, whether we’ll have a chance to vote on it one more time,” Thayer said.