Politics & Government

Drug bill altered to help felons

FRANKFORT - The House Judiciary Committee yesterday attached a provision that would allow some felons to expunge their criminal record to an unrelated bill, drawing protests from some conservatives.

The committee substitute is expected to sail through the House, meaning the Senate this year will likely vote on the expungement bill for the first time. The House Democratic Majority Whip Rob Wilkey has sponsored the bill four years in a row. Three times it died in the Republican-controlled Senate without even getting a hearing. This year, the Senate "seems more receptive to giving it a fair shot," Wilkey said.

Wilkey attached it to Senate Bill 34, which the Senate unanimously passed. It would expand drug treatment options for drug offenders.

The bill that was attached is House Bill 16, which would allow people to expunge Class D felonies -- which include theft over $300, welfare fraud and drug possession -- from their records. Crimes against children, violent crimes and sex crimes could not be expunged.

Should the Senate reject the modified bill, it will be sent back to the House. Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, said he's concerned that Wilkey's amendment may end up killing the bill. The bulk of the legislative session ends Monday.

Kelly and Wilkey said there would still be time for the House to accept the pared-down bill. "In no way do I want to kill Sen. Kelly's bill," Wilkey said.