Sen. Damon Thayer: Editorial concerns about some bills misplaced

March 24, 2014 

Damon Thayer is the majority floor leader of the Kentucky State Senate.

  • At issue: March 7 Herald-Leader editorial, "Thayer making GOP look bad; Kudos to Republican voting-rights defenders"

It must be nice to live in a reality free from the facts that govern the rest of us here on Earth. At least, that's what I imagine it must be like in the editorial offices of the Herald-Leader after reading their latest overblown hit piece on me.

Virtually nothing printed in the March 7 editorial in this newspaper was based in reality. Let's take it point-by-point:

■ Restoration of voting rights for felons: this issue has nothing to do with voter suppression, as this paper alleges. First, some background. House Bill 70 does not automatically restore the voting rights of all individuals convicted of a felony.

It says individuals convicted of nonviolent, non-sexual felonies will receive a partial pardon and can then register to vote.

What happened in the Senate was very simple. HB 70 as passed by the House would have, quite likely, not have passed the Senate. When a piece of legislation is in that position, you have two choices: don't consider it or amend it and continue the legislative process.

So we made the choice to amend it with an idea from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul who said last September at a community forum in Louisville, "maybe instead of an immediate restoration that you have to wait a couple of years with no convictions."

According to the Kentucky Justice Cabinet, 37 percent of ex-felons wind up committing another crime in the first three years after leaving jail.

This change does not bring a new "barrier line" into the bill, it simply moved the line already created by the House. As Paul said in his community forum, it seems like a reasonable compromise.

■ House Bill 5, known as the Cyber Security Bill: The editorial accused me of blocking this legislation. Nothing could be further from the truth. It passed the House and is going through the normal review process in the Senate.

The bill does not contain an emergency clause, meaning it doesn't matter if the Senate passed it today or on the last day of the session.

Why? The effective date is Jan. 1, 2015. Keep in mind that most bills passed during the 2014 session will take effect in early July, a full six months before HB 5.

If this paper wants to melt down over legislation not moving, perhaps it can ask the Democrat leaders of the House why has not Senate Bill 1, which would provide more legislative oversight of executive branch administrative regulations, received a vote? It passed the Senate on Feb. 6 and has yet to receive any action in the House.

Or maybe they can ask about SB 5, which would tackle Kentucky's heroin epidemic. It passed the Senate Jan. 16 by a vote of 36-1 and had yet to receive any action in the House.

Maybe this paper can ask about the Senate bills, dealing with everything from tort reform to telecommunications reform and protecting the unborn, that never see the light of day in the House, year after year after year.

The selective outrage this paper practices in defense of some ideas destroys its credibility when you consider what happens down the hallway in the Democrat-controlled House.

But, of course, this paper's editorial board never let the facts get in the way of its quixotic quest to belittle and defame conservatives.

Damon Thayer is the majority floor leader of the Kentucky State Senate.

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