Politics & Government

Legislative briefs

DUI, protection bills approved

The House passed a measure Tuesday that would allow judges to order locking devices to be placed in the cars of people charged with drunken driving. It also passed a bill that would allow dating partners to seek protective orders.

The House voted 94-0 to pass House Bill 58, which would allow judges to order that a device be connected to the vehicle ignitions of convicted drunken drivers. A person would have to blow into the device before driving. If the test showed an illegal level of alcohol, the car would not start. States that have passed similar measures have seen the number of drunken-driving deaths decrease, its backers say.

The House also voted to approve a measure that would expand protections for domestic violence victims. HB 35 would allow those older than 18 to receive protective or domestic violence orders. Currently, only married couples, couples who live together and those who have a child together may obtain protective orders from the courts.

HB 58 and HB 35 are now headed to the Senate.

No word on prison crowding

Ten days into a 30-day lawmaking session, legislators aren't ready to file a bill to address prison and jail crowding in Kentucky, despite a year's work by a high-powered committee and consultants who were paid $200,000.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Tom Jensen, R-London, said Tuesday he hopes a bill that contains recommendations of the Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act can be ready to file in the House on Thursday.

"Staff is working on it pretty much day and night, and we'll want to see the final version before anything is filed," said Jensen, a member of the task force.

The task force, working with consultants from the Pew Center on the States, last month suggested ways to cut the state inmate population of nearly 21,000, one-fourth of whom are serving time on drug charges.

Senate allows new nuclear plants

With no discussion, the Senate approved a bill Tuesday to lift the ban on new nuclear power plants in the state.

The sponsor of Senate Bill 34, Sen. Bob Leeper, I-Paducah, said it would not cost energy rate payers or the state anything and would not harm the environment.

The Senate vote was 31-5. The bill now goes to the House.

A 1984 state law bans construction of nuclear power plants in Kentucky until the federal government determines how to safely dispose of nuclear waste.

Herald-leader staff reports