Politics & Government

Gov. Matt Bevin vetoes three bills and part of another

Gov. Matt Bevin
Gov. Matt Bevin

Gov. Matt Bevin made his first vetoes of the 2017 General Assembly on Monday, rejecting three bills and striking part of another.

Lawmakers return to Frankfort on Wednesday and Thursday to consider overriding Bevin’s decisions and to pass additional legislation.

These are the bills Bevin vetoed:

▪  House Bill 471 is an appropriations bill best known for describing how Kentucky will finance newly approved charter schools, but Bevin vetoed language in another portion of the bill that would put money received from the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Agreement into an account that could not be spent without permission from the General Assembly.

Attorney General Andy Beshear announced in June that Kentucky will get $19 million from an environmental mitigation trust financed by the automaker after Volkswagen admitted that the company cheated on emission standards testing.

In his veto, Bevin said the agreement “spells out specific and restrictive purposes” for how the money can be spent. He said vetoing the language prevents the “delay of potential benefits.”

▪  Senate Bill 91, also called “Tim’s Law,” would allow judges to order some mentally ill Kentuckians into outpatient medical treatment, a step shy of institutionalization, with public defenders representing them at hearings, and caseworkers monitoring their daily progress.

District courts could order outpatient treatment for someone through a community mental health agency after getting a petition from the person’s family, friends or legal guardians, or law enforcement or medical professionals. If someone ordered to outpatient treatment later refused to cooperate, the judge could order him involuntarily committed to the hospital.

The bill failed in 2015 and 2016, but it passed both chambers of the General Assembly this session, with only three no votes.

Bevin said the bill is well-intentioned but would “set a dangerous precedent that would threaten the liberty of Kentucky’s citizens.”

The bill targets people who are unlikely to voluntarily go to outpatient treatment and is based on “speculation about what may or may not happen in the future,” Bevin said.

The Kentucky Council of Churches is calling on lawmakers to override Bevin’s veto. Supporters of the bill say it would prevent the “revolving door” of hospitalization and incarceration that entraps many mentally ill people.

▪  Senate Joint Resolution 57 renames some Kentucky roads in honor of famous Kentuckians and historic events. Bevin vetoed the bill because of “Copperhead Trail,” which spans 60 miles on 11 routes. Bevin said the naming violates the Transportation Cabinet’s policies, in part because some sections of the trail have already been named, and that might cause confusion.

▪  House Bill 540 deals with unmanned aircraft, or drones, and creates regulations against recklessly operating an unmanned aircraft.

Bevin called the bill well-intentioned, but he said it is pre-empted by federal law. He cited concerns that when state or local governments try to regulate the operation of aircraft, it creates a problem for the Federal Aviation Administration because it creates a “patchwork quilt” of regulations.

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics