Kentucky Black Caucus Prioritizes Human Rights Issues In 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Black Legislative Caucus isn’t a large group, only nine members, and all of them are in the Democratic minority.

Caucus chairman state Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, said getting their priorities through will take some negotiating with Republican leaders.

“We believe that they will understanding, that they will be receptive to what our positions are, and we will hold them accountable for that,” Meeks said. “And I think the voters will hold them accountable to that, just like they hold us accountable.”

Meeks says the caucus will have a broad agenda in 2020, including the restoration of voting rights to nonviolent felons.

Gov. Andy Beshear signed an order last month, restoring voting rights for an estimated 140,000 people convicted of a felony.

A bill filed by state Rep. Charles Booker, D-Louisville, would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to permanently restore voting rights for felons who have completed their sentences.

The caucus will also put its energy behind several bills dealing with human rights, including a bill from state Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville, to protect people who wear their hair naturally.

The bill includes braids, locks and twists as specifically protected hairstyles.

“It’s an issue because individuals, we know, have been discriminated against because they choose to wear their hair naturally,” Meeks said. “So if people are being discriminated against, we can’t just close our eyes to it. That’s why it’s an important bill.”

Other bills include tighter rules on police body cameras and a new board to review officer-involved shootings.

Meeks says those issues may not seem important to the majority, but they’re important to the black community.