Gov. Beshear Signs 10 Public Protection Bills to Keep Kentuckians Safe

Governor vetoes three bills that are not in public’s interest

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 23, 2021) On Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear signed 10 bills that prioritize the well-being and safety of all Kentuckians, with a special focus on protecting seniors and vulnerable children and families.

“There is nothing more central to governing than providing for the safety and security of our people,” said Gov. Beshear. “From day one of my administration, public protection has been a top priority on multiple fronts: fighting the opioid epidemic and then the once-in-a-century global COVID-19 pandemic, while keeping our children and seniors safe from criminals who would take advantage of them. Today, I am proud to join state legislators in advancing these goals again.”

The Governor signed the following bills today:

House Bill 7
The Governor supports House Bill 7, which will help the state fight drug addiction to save lives and ensure brighter futures for Kentucky families.

House Bill 8
The Governor supports House Bill 8 because it means retirement contributions from employers will no longer be based solely on a percentage of their payroll.

Under the previous formula, some employers were able to drastically reduce their contributions simply by laying off and outsourcing staff. In the last decade alone, the number of active member employees the Kentucky Employee Retirement Systems funding has been based on declined dramatically. This results in contribution rates rising higher and higher, resulting in even more layoffs and outsourcing. Those impacted the most are agencies that help those suffering – Kentucky’s sexual trauma, rape crisis and recovery centers and our child advocacy centers.

“This bill means children who have been waiting to receive trauma-informed services will get them. It means more communities will be served, more programs will be saved from cuts and these agencies will keep their doors open,” said Gov. Beshear.

Multiple leaders of organizations impacted by House Bill 8 thanked the Governor and state legislators in video messages, including: Hope Burns, executive director of the Buffalo Trace Children’s Advocacy Center; Jillian Carden, executive director of Silverleaf Sexual Trauma Recovery; and Angela Yannelli, chief executive officer, Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

House Bill 105
The Governor supports House Bill 105, which strengthens the state’s response in mobilizing rescue efforts when a Kentuckian goes missing. By investing in communications resources, this bill will help bring Kentuckians home before a dangerous situation becomes a tragedy.

House Bill 254
The Governor supports House Bill 254, a bipartisan effort that will help law enforcement better protect Kentucky’s children by enhancing penalties against predators who possess, view or distribute sexually exploitive material of minors younger than 12.

“As attorney general, I saw first-hand how our children can be exploited online, often without even realizing it. HB 254 provides law enforcement with the authority to charge offenders with more serious crimes,” said Gov. Beshear. “This bill is personal to me as a father of a 10- and an 11-year-old. Protecting our children has to be our number one priority.”

House Bill 273
The Governor supports House Bill 273 which protects victims of crime from continued re-victimization through better use of the Open Records Act.

“I am committed to transparency in government, but we must not allow victims of traumatic events to be needlessly re-victimized by releasing this kind of material without their knowledge or consent,” said Gov. Beshear.

House Bill 392
The Governor supports this bill which will allow more Kentuckians, especially seniors, who are struggling financially to receive energy funding available through voluntary utility home-energy assistance programs, while also reducing program administration costs.

House Bill 472
Like House Bill 254, House Bill 472 further protects Kentucky children by extending the statute of limitations for misdemeanor sex offenses against children from five to 10 years, among other provisions.

“Most children, in particular the very young, do not disclose abuse in real time,” said Gov. Beshear. “We must do everything we can to create the safe pathways so that survivors of childhood sexual abuse feel empowered to make their voices heard and tell their stories in their own time, while ensuring we can still hold the perpetrators accountable.”

Multiple community leaders working to end child abuse in Kentucky thanked the Governor and state legislators in video messages, including: Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates and Jill Seyfred, executive director, Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky.

Senate Bill 64
“Senate Bill 64 gives the commonwealth enhanced tools to continue fighting to end child sexual abuse. Kentucky must crack down on cybercrimes so we can better protect our children,” said Gov. Beshear.

Senate Bill 64 targets online child predators and creates tougher penalties for those who use the internet to prey on minors, especially children 12 and younger. This bill also makes it easier for law enforcement to conduct undercover stings and increases the chances of stopping a horrific crime against a child from being facilitated through the internet.

Senate Bill 66
The Governor supports this bill which helps ensure Kentucky children have access to quality, safe environments where they can learn and grow, including youth camps. Senate Bill 66 better defines the requirements and standards for background checks for those working at youth camps.

Senate Bill 84
Kentucky has one of the highest rates of parents who are incarcerated, and research shows the negative impact this adverse childhood experience has on individuals. The Governor supports this bill, which treats health care as a basic human right and prioritizes giving children the best start to their life despite circumstances beyond their control.

The Governor vetoed three bills that do not protect Kentuckians and are not in the public’s interest:

“I am vetoing three bills that do not help to protect our families and in fact aim to harm them, take away food from children and keep the public away from reviewing legislative records and information,” said Gov. Beshear. “Vetoing a bill is not a small thing, but it’s my job as Governor to try to do the right thing, regardless of whether or not it’s popular.

House Bill 312
“I am vetoing House Bill 312 because it defeats the entire purpose of the Kentucky Open Records Act, which exists to ensure people’s right to know how their government operates,” said Gov. Beshear.

The bill would shield the legislative branch from providing public records, and would make it the judge of what records it should produce with no ability for a citizen to appeal that decision to a judge. It would also prevent any nonresident of Kentucky from being able to access public records.

House Bill 475
The Governor does not support House Bill 475 because it intentionally weakens health and safety protections for Kentucky workers.

Senate Bill 65
“This is a cruel bill at any time – but certainly in a once-in-100-year pandemic, taking food benefits away from children is cruel,” said Gov. Beshear. “One in six Kentucky households with children experiences food insecurity. My faith teaches me that we never punish a child for the actions of a parent.”

The Governor is vetoing Senate Bill 65 because it will deprive Kentucky children of essential food assistance, and it will require the commonwealth to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in administrative costs to do so.

“When I took the oath of office to become your Governor, I knew there was no more important duty than to protect our people,” said Gov. Beshear. “The last year has demonstrated the necessity of prioritizing the health and safety of Kentuckians, especially the most vulnerable. I will continue to work with leaders at all levels to act to make this a safer, more secure commonwealth for each of our families.”