A bill that would nullify future federal attempts to control firearms easily cleared the Senate but not without plenty of fireworks. Senate Bill 129 prohibits the enforceability of any new federal law, rule, regulation, or order relating to the ownership or registration of certain firearms, magazines, or accessories. Bill opponents cast the bill as an attack on the Constitution. But the sponsor, Jared Carpenter of Madison County, said the measure is in response to the Obama administration’s “assault on the right to bear arms.”
Carpenter, a Republican, credited Democrat Ray Jones, a Pike County lawyer, for helping to draft the bill. Jones was the first of five lawyers to speak on the bill. The debate turned largely on the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which holds that federal law trumps state law where conflicts arise. Jones mentioned the Supremacy Clause in a floor speech.
Senator Kathy Stein, a Lexington attorney, continued Jones’ theme to argue that states can’t pick and choose which federal laws they will and won’t enforce.
She said she’s not an enemy of the 2nd Amendment, but asserted there are reasonable limitations of Constitutional rights.
Finally, attorney Gerald Neal of Jefferson County defended the federal government and expressed disappointment that lawmakers would vote to nullify the Supremacy Clause. He reminded his colleagues that the business of making policy is serious and no place for games.
Senate Bill 129 cleared the chamber by a vote of 34 to 3. It now awaits assignment to a House committee.
There was deeper partisan division over another measure the Senate approved. Chris McDaniel’s Senate Bill 55 would let voters decide whether to synchronize the election of state officers with the presidential election cycle beginning in 2016. The proposed Constitutional Amendment would add a year to the terms of current constitutional officers including the governor. The measure passed the Senate 25 to 12 along partisan lines and now advances to the House.
In Kentucky House action….
House Speaker Greg Stumbo says drug overdose deaths have declined, narcotics prescriptions are down, and so are costs thanks to hallmark legislation passed last year meant to shutter unscrupulous pill mill operations that were exacerbating prescription drug abuse throughout the state.
He hailed House Bill One of 2012 as a dramatic and bold step to crack down on pain management clinics with loose prescription practices, but one that that yielded some unintended consequences and complaints from providers who believe it’s overreaching. The Prestonsburg Democrat explained that the tweaks offered in his House Bill 217 are not a retreat from the new law, but mild adjustments to make it work better as he explained to the House Judiciary committee Monday afternoon.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s House Bill 217 cleared the House judiciary committee without opposition. It now advances to the House for a vote by the entire membership.
Thanks to Steve Shaw, our Senate reporter, for contributing to this post. Watch “Legislative Update” each weeknight at 11pm ET for a daily digest of committee and chamber actions. Follow @ReneeKET on Twitter throughout the day for updates.