By Jack Brammer – firstname.lastname@example.org
FRANKFORT — A constitutional amendment that touches on an array of hot-button issues pushed by conservatives failed in the state Senate Monday after Democrats took a pass on the bill.
The measure, which backers called the “21st Century Bill of Rights,” would amend the Kentucky Constitution to say no law could force Kentuckians to participate in health insurance systems, provide abortion services or surrender their firearms. It also would ban laws that prevent posting the Ten Commandments and coal mining.
If approved by the legislature, voters would decide its fate at the polls in November.
Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, needed 23 votes for passage. All 20 Republicans in the Senate and its one independent, Bob Leeper of Paducah, voted for the measure, but the 16 Democrats present recorded “pass” votes. Sen. Dorsey Ridley, D-Henderson, was absent.
Senate Minority Leader Ed Worley, D-Richmond, said the bill was “a political ploy” by Republicans to attract more conservatives to the polls in hopes they would support Republican nominees.
But Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said Worley “is the person playing politics with the issue.”
Williams said a “pass vote is equivalent to a no vote on a constitutional amendment” and that he thought at least three Democrats would have voted for the bill.
To revive the bill, two Democrats who voted “pass” would have to ask the chamber to reconsider the issue.
Before Monday’s vote, the political parties met in separate caucuses to discuss the bill.
Afterward, Smith explained the explained the legislation, saying it was needed to protect “the great and essential liberties of government.”
There was no debate on the measure and no member explained his or her vote.