FRANKFORT — The Kentucky House of Representatives has voted in favor of House Bill 14, also known as the “Blue Lives Matter” bill. The bill will now move on to the Kentucky Senate. If HB14 passes the Senate, Gov. Bevin will then have the option of signing the bill into law.
Republican Representative Kevin Bratcher introduced the bill, which passed through the House on Feb. 13 by a vote of 77 in favor to 13 opposed. HB14 is also sponsored by Rep. Chris Fugate of Perry County, who is a former police officer. The bill’s summary states that HB14 will, Amend KRS 532.031, relating to an offense committed as a result of a hate crime, to include offenses committed against an individual because of the individual’s actual or perceived employment as a city, county, state, or federal peace officer, member of an organized fire department, emergency medical services personnel; provide that “emergency medical services personnel” is defined as in KRS 311A.010; enumerate that members of an organized fire department or emergency medical services personnel includes volunteer members if the violation occurs while the volunteer is performing duties with an organized fire department or emergency medical services personnel.
HB14 endured more than an hour of debate before passing. Opponents of the bill argue that such a measure is unnecessary, considering that people who attack public service officials already face possibility of strict punishment if found guilty. The opponents feel this law would only work to further divide people within the state. Organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement have expressed disappointment in the bill’s nickname. However, supporters of the bill in the House have said that “Blue Lives Matter” is not an official name given to the bill and they are not responsible for the bill receiving such a nickname by the public.
If HB14 becomes law, it will give prosecutors the option of classifying some attacks on first responders as hate crimes. The bill now moves on to the Senate, where it can be stricken down with a majority “no” vote, or passed on to the Governor’s desk with a majority vote of approval.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.