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Kentucky General Assembly Week 4: House passes anti-crime bill

By Kayla Carter Smith, Policy Analyst
The “Safer Kentucky Act” – a House priority bill – passed the House 74-22 and now moves to the Senate.

The legislature continued at a gentler pace this week as the number of bills filed remained unusually low for this point in a long session. The last day to file a new bill in the House is Feb. 26, while the Senate has until Feb. 28.  Nevertheless, legislators took action on bills including some affecting counties. 

HB 5, known as the “Safer Kentucky Act” and sponsored by Rep. Jared Bauman, passed the House chamber 74-22 Thursday. The bill creates harsher penalties for violent crimes and creates new consequences for homeless encampments, including making unlawful camping a class B misdemeanor after the second offense. Class B misdemeanors can carry a sentence of up to 90 days in county jails. The bill passed with a floor amendment filed by Rep. Bauman to exempt sleeping in a legally parked vehicle from the unlawful camping definition. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. 

SB 23, sponsored by Sen. Mike Nemes, passed unanimously out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee this week. The bill proposes a constitutional amendment to expand the homestead exemption to exempt increases in property assessments of real property that are the permanent residence of an owner who is 65 or older. The bill heads to the Senate floor.  

HB 156, sponsored by Rep. Walker Thomas, passed out of the House Transportation Committee. The bill requires vehicles with an iron, steel or wooden wheel that operates on a highway to have a rubber strip or a rubber compound strip on the portion of the wheel that is in contact with the surface of the highway. Violation of this requirement would result in fine between $20 and $100 for each offense. The bill now moves to the House floor for consideration.   

SB 125, sponsored by Sen. Phillip Wheeler, passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill expands the ability for more local governments to start off-highway vehicle pilot programs by allowing any local government that operates a public off-highway vehicle trail system to participate. The bill also extends the period for local governments to establish a pilot program from July 1, 2024, to July 1, 2027. The bill will next be considered on the Senate floor.   


Follow KACo on Facebook and X (Twitter) for the latest updates. Email any questions or comments to Shellie Hampton ( or Gracie Kelly (  

Mark your calendars for the upcoming County Officials Legislative Reception, which will be held at KACo headquarters in Frankfort on Wednesday, Feb. 21 from 4:30 – 7 EST. You can register for the event here. 


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