Felon Voting Rights Approved By Senate

By Michael Gossum | 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WBKO) -- It's an issue that's got bi-partisan support and has seen bi-partisan opposition, but today in Frankfort Wednesday, the discussion was all about giving felons their right to vote back.

Before a changed version of House Bill 70 passed the Senate late Wednesday afternoon 34-4, some big names testified about giving convicted felons voting rights.

"Most of us believe in redemption, most of us believe in a second chance. I think we should get a second chance to vote, but also to work," said Sen. Rand Paul R-Kentucky.

The original bill sponsored by Rep. Jesse Crenshaw D-Lexington, who grew up in Metcalfe County that has already passed the house, was changed by the Senate State and Local Government Committee today.

The committee substituted a requirement for a five year waiting period and a two strike rule for repeat felony offenders.

"The committee substitute says in essence justice for some and not justice for all," said Crenshaw.

He said when you have served your punishment that should be it.

Convicted felon Michael Hiser feels the same way.

"The committee substitute puts more oppression on there. I'm a multiple-time felon. So, now I can't vote no matter what or do I have to beg the governor? I've done everything I was supposed to do I've paid my restitution," said Hiser.

However, senators on the committee say the changes are they only way they'd vote for it.

"This bill would not be here today, in my estimation, if it were not for the committee substitute," said Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown.

It does not include voting fights for felons who committed intentional murder, rape, sodomy or a sex offense with a minor.

This bill creates a constitutional amendment for all Kentuckians to decide if they want convicted felons to be able to vote.

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