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State Capitol

Senate Passes Bill Forming Commission On Race And Access To Opportunity


The Kentucky Senate took final action this week to establish a Commission on Race and Access to Opportunity, but not without emotional debate. 

Some of those voting no cited a House change in the bill to remove the State Human Rights Commission Director from the yet to be formed panel and include a member from the Prosecutor Advisory Council.

Bill Sponsor David Givens asked for the opportunity to let the new commission form and begin to work. “Let’s journey this together.  Let’s explore together. Let’s investigate together and we’re going to stumble together and we’re going to falter and we’re going to laugh and there may be moments when we cry.  But, we’ll be better for every one of those moments,” said Givens.

Lexington Senator Reggie Thomas voted no saying the bill in it’s current form sends the wrong message.  He said he’s seen efforts to quote, “get together, let’s try to move the ball forward, let’s try to improve race relations” only to see those efforts go by the wayside.  Louisville Senator Gerald Neal was among those who voted yes initially, but no on the revised measure.  “So we can dance around it and use all the words we want to, but the reality is you had stuff before you this session that could have been pulled up, at least discussed, dealt with.  Didn’t happen.  Next session, it will be the same because it was last session, and the session before that, and the session before that,” said Neal.

Both Neal and Thomas were complimentary of Givens and his efforts and focus in the initial bill.

Hopkinsville Senator Whitney Westerfield voted yes with hope that the commission could address a number of issues.  He said the group should not carry a too heavy criminal justice focus, but also delve deeply into issues like education, health care, and prosperity.

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