Expungement bill passes

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Expungement of criminal record document - generic image

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Legislation to expand the number of Kentuckians eligible to have low-level felonies expunged from their criminal records received final passage by a 36-1 vote Thursday in the state Senate.

The measure, known as Senate Bill 57, would expand discretionary expungement to all Class D felonies, except those that involve a breach of public trust, sex offenses, crimes against children and violent crimes that may cause serious bodily injury or even death. Another provision of SB 57 outlines how the state would handle expungement requests for crimes committed before 1975 when Kentucky changed its penal code.

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Final passage came after the Senate concurred with amendments the House made to SB 57. Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, said those changes included reducing the waiting period to apply for expungement to five years. The original version of the bill contained a 10-year waiting period. Under the new language, any expungement would not become official until the applicant paid the processing fee, but that fee was cut in half to $250.

Sen. Gerald A. Neal, D-Louisville, said SB 57 would provide a second chance for people in society by removing barriers for re-entry into the workforce.

“I think this is a common sense, positive step forward,” he said. “I want to commend (Higdon) for his hard work and foresight.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, explained his “yes” vote.

“This has been a movement from (Higdon) for as long as I’ve known him,” Thayer said. “He is a strong believer in second chances and I know it’s a big part of his Catholic faith because I share that faith with him. But I also believe it is a tribute to his patriotism and what it means to be an American and give people a second chance so they can go back to work, provide for their families and have dignity.”

SB 57 now goes to the governor.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.