Gov. Matt Bevin

Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill targeting gang members and vetoed five other bills on Thursday, the last day for the governor to either sign or veto legislation passed at the very end of the 2018 legislative session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Bevin also allowed the tax “cleanup” bill to become law without his signature, despite late concerns expressed by large companies like Brown-Forman that they would be negatively impacted by a change in tax reporting requirements.

House Bill 169 signed into law by Bevin sought to target those who recruit young people into violent criminal gangs, expanding the legal definition of a gang and increasing mandatory sentences for gang members who commit crimes.

The gang bill had the backing of the Kentucky State Police and Kentucky League of Cities — in addition to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and LMPD Chief Steve Conrad — but other groups like the ACLU of Kentucky and Louisville Urban League strongly opposed it, fearing that it would be used to racially profile African-Americans as a similar bill wound up doing in Mississippi.

Though Bevin did not sign it, House Bill 487 — described as a way to “fix” elements of the revenue bill altering the state tax system — became law due to the governor declining to veto it.

While the main feature of HB 487 was to restore the manufacturing tax credits used by Toyota, Ford and GE Appliances that were inadvertently left out of the revenue bill, Brown-Forman objected to the bill changing Kentucky to a “combined reporting” state, requiring large companies to report all of their business income throughout the country.

Brown-Forman sent a letter to Bevin asking for “help in rectifying” the bill’s “negative consequences,” while GE Appliances opposed a veto, suggesting that the legislature could review this provision in their session next year.

Bevin also vetoed House Bill 75, which would have set guidelines for how local governments can make investments, writing in his veto message that it “creates restrictions that unnecessarily limit investment opportunities” for these local agencies.

House Bill 97 would have moved back the deadline several days for local candidates’ campaign finance reports, but the governor’s veto message stated that this would have been confusing and served no purpose.

The governor’s veto of House Bill 130 blocks what would have allowed the General Assembly to review executive branch regulations between legislative sessions, with Bevin calling the bill unnecessary bureaucracy that would undermine Kentucky economic growth.

House Bill 273 was billed as a way to prevent voters from using a loophole to switch parties just before primary elections in order to register to vote in a different party’s primary. However, Bevin’s veto message criticized it for making Kentucky’s “closed primary session even more closed, preventing some voters from having a voice in primary elections.”

Bevin’s veto of House Bill 274 criticized how that measure would have cut the amount of time to request an absentee ballot before an election from 14 days to just seven days, stating that it was an additional burden on citizens’ right to vote.

Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]


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