FRANKFORT — House Bill 160, which was introduced to Kentucky’s General Assembly on Jan. 7, seeks to give Fiscal Courts the option of keeping or doing away with the elected position of Constable. According to the bill’s summary, HB 160 will propose to create a new Section 99A of the Constitution of Kentucky to allow the legislative body of a county to choose to abolish the office of Constable and also to reestablish that office through an ordinance; allow the legislative body of a city within the county to suspend the powers of the office of Constable within the city limits of that city and to reestablish those powers through an ordinance; amend Section 99 of the Constitution of Kentucky to conform; submit question to the voters.
The primary sponsor of HB 160 is Republican Adam Koenig, representing Kentucky’s 69th legislative district. According to the Kentucky Constable Association website, the office of Constable dates from Medieval England. Your Constable is an elected public official. The Constable is one of the only four remaining elected peace officers in the world. In Kentucky, the position of Constable was established in the 1850 Constitution. The present Constitution requires the election of one constable in each justice of the peace (known as magistrate) district.
Some supporters of HB 160 argue that the Constable position has become obsolete and that the duties of the Constable could be assumed by other county law enforcement officials. However, some opponents point out that the Kentucky Constitution actually grants great authority to the Constables and better serves to uphold checks and balances within the spectrum of county law enforcement.
Perry County has three districts represented by Magistrates, and therefore, Perry County has three elected constables. House Bill 160 has not been voted on yet by the House of Representatives. If the bill fails to pass, nothing will change. If the bill ultimately passes into law, it will not do away with the Constable position, but rather, it will give each county’s Fiscal Court the authority to decide whether or not to keep their Constables.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.