Limiting secretary of state’s powers one of several bills passed in House

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – On essentially the last day lawmakers will meet in this year’s legislative session, the Kentucky House late Thursday night advanced several measures to desk of Gov. Matt Bevin.


It was the 29th day of the 30-day short session but the final day will be March 28 for veto purposes.


One high-profile measure saw the full House reverse the vote of one of its committees and approve a bill stripping the secretary of state of power over the State Board of Elections.


The bill was filed by Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, and, in its original form, prevented access, modification or altering voter registration records by the secretary of state, individual members of the State Board of Elections, or any staff member of the Secretary of State’s office.


However, after a series of articles by Pro Publica and the Lexington Herald-Leader, alleging improper access to and use of the voter registration records by current Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and other employees in Grimes’ office, Thayer added provisions removing her power.


Senate Bill 34 failed in the House Elections Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee on a tie vote, but Thayer tacked on most of the same provisions onto House Bill 114, and the House concurred in the changes, on a 56-39 vote.


Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes issued a statement in reaction to the vote.
"The Republican majority upended the State Board of Elections tonight without even the basic understanding of how it functions or what the proposed legislation does,” she said. “That was evident when majority members didn't even know how many members currently sit on the board or how a tie vote could not be broken under Thayer's bill."


The House did not agree to changes the Senate made to a bill dealing with pension plans for the regional universities and quasi-governmental agencies such as health departments.


Some other major Senate bills passed by the House and will be heading to the governor are:


--A measure that would increase the use of ignition interlocks for those convicted of drunk driving.


--Legislation creating a felony crime of strangulation.


--Placing Executive Branch lobbyists under the same regulations as legislative ones.


--Expanding the number of felony crimes that can be removed from a person’s record after they conclude their sentence and pay any fines or restitution.

  

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