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Day two of David Pecker testimony wraps in NY Trump trial; Supreme Court hears arguments on Idaho's near-total abortion ban; ND sees a flurry of campaigning among Native candidates; and NH lags behind other states in restricting firearms at polling sites.

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The Senate moves forward with a foreign aid package. A North Carolina judge overturns an aged law penalizing released felons. And child protection groups call a Texas immigration policy traumatic for kids.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

KY lawmakers consider bill that would expand felony offenses

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Tuesday, February 13, 2024   

Under proposed legislation being considered by Republican lawmakers, Kentucky renters would face harsher criminal penalties for property damage. Penalties would increase for sleeping in a tent in public areas, and for violent offenses, among other measures.

Ben Carter, senior litigation and advocacy counsel with the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, explained state lawmakers already passed a law a few years ago that made damaging rental property in excess of $1,000 punishable as a felony. He said House Bill 5 would lower that threshold.

"House Bill 5 reduces the amount of damage you would need to do to a rental property to $500 before a renter - 30% of all Kentuckians rent their homes - faces potential felony charges for destruction of, or damage to, rental properties," Carter added.

The state is already struggling with affordable housing. Even before the pandemic and supply-chain shortages stalled new construction, the Commonwealth was short around 90,000 affordable units. According to the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky, around 4,000 Kentuckians experience homelessness on any given night in January each year.

Supporters of the bill say the legislation is needed to protect citizens and increase public safety.

The bill would also create a "three strikes" provision, which requires any person convicted of a violent felony for a third time to be sentenced to either life without the possibility of parole -- or death, if the third offense is death-sentence eligible. Carter predicts the state's incarcerated population would balloon under the bill, along with costs paid by taxpayers.

"When we decide to increase the number of crimes for which you have to serve at least 85% of your sentence, and we increase the duration of those sentences, all of those decisions take dollars out of other approaches that we know will get at the root causes of some of these public-safety problems," Carter continued.

According to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, as of last December, 1% of
people serving felony sentences in Kentucky were sentenced to life without parole.


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