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Major GOP-backed crime bill on its way to the governor

Josh James

A GOP package of anti-crime reforms is now headed to the governor’s desk after final passage in the House Thursday.

House Bill 5 includes a number of provisions backers say are necessary to tamp down on crime in the commonwealth – among them, a three-strikes rule mandating a life sentence for anyone convicted of three violent felonies, a death penalty option for anyone who kills a police officer, a carjacking statute, and a provision barring street camping outside of officially designated areas.

That last item is one opponents have cited as the “criminalization of homelessness.” Lexington Democratic Rep. Adrielle Camuel pointed out that the bill would treat basketball fans camping out for tickets differently from those without a home.

"I will say I find it interesting the sponsor wants to be able to pick and choose those who can camp in public spaces. Basketball fans can camp based on his answer, yet actual homeless people cannot," she said.

Detractors have also questioned the data used to inform language in the new package of laws. Sponsor, Rep. Jared Bauman, said drafters did their due diligence.

"We did work with experts for months to get this policy right, to ensure that we provide for the highest levels of safety, security, and protection for the 4.5 million Kentuckians we are blessed to serve," he said.

The final vote was 75-23, with Democrats united against the bill.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.