'I saw several senators vote against what I know they believe': Contentious 'anti-trans' bill back before lawmakers this week
Lobbying continues over perhaps the most divisive bill of the 2023 legislative session, a sweeping measure that restricts gender-affirming care for minors, among other controversial provisions. Following Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of Senate Bill 150, the issue is back in the legislature’s court this week.
While GOP supermajorities in both chambers can easily override Beshear’s veto if they choose, controversy over Senate Bill 150, branded one of the most draconian anti-transgender bills in the county by critics, all but guarantees a charged debate when lawmakers return for the final two days of the session on Wednesday and Thursday.
Drama and questions about the process continue to swirl around SB 150 – which emerged the day after the Kentucky Senate narrowly agreed to scale back the language, removing a ban on puberty blockers and giving physicians more discretion in treating trans youth, only to press pause on that bill, House Bill 470, and scramble to enact a stricter version the next day.
The Herald-Leader reports that came after lawmakers saw their inboxes filled by conservative groups sensing a win was still possible for their side. Sen. Whitney Westerfield was among the Republicans who cast a "hesitant" yes vote on the final version.
"Everybody else that voted on last night's amended version of 470, voted in support of floor amendment 2, was blasted with hundreds of emails today," he said, rising to explain his vote on March 16. He said many messages questioned lawmakers' Christian values.
Republican Danny Carroll, normally a reliable GOP vote, was the main voice calling for his caucus to soften the provisions in the bill.
"We've got one side pushing really hard, which is making the other side push back even harder," Carroll explained in his explanation of his amendment. "And we've forgotten what's important in this."
What’s important, he went on to say, are the people the bill directly affects.
People like Emma Curtis, a familiar face at the Capitol. The transgender activist, who has engaged lawmakers one-on-one about the issue, applauded Carroll’s attempted amendment and questioned whether the vote truly reflected all of the senators' convictions.
"I saw... several senators vote against what I know they believe, and that's genuinely disappointing," she said.
The question now: Will reaction to the bill’s passage and behind-the-scenes discussions make for more confusion as the General Assembly again takes up the issue on the last two days of the session?