Updated Dec 12, 2019

Kentucky governor restores voting rights for 100,000 nonviolent felons

Gov. Andy Beshear on Nov. 5, just before he was confirmed Kentucky's new governor. Photo: John Sommers II/Getty Images

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) signed an order on Thursday restoring voting rights to more than 100,000 people with nonviolent felony convictions, the Wall Street Journal reports.

By taking this step, by restoring these voting rights, we declare that everyone counts in Kentucky. We all matter."
— Gov. Andy Beshear

Why it matters: Iowa is now the only state in the country with a lifetime ban on voting for anyone convicted of a felony. Convicted felons in Kentucky previously had to seek clemency from the governor on an individual basis.

  • The League of Women Voters of Kentucky issued a report in January that some 312,000 people feel disenfranchised because of felony convictions. 

Between the lines: Beshear appears to be following in his father's footsteps, former Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who signed an executive order just before leaving office in 2015 to restore voting rights to more than 100,00 convicted felons.

  • That order would've applied to those who'd "completed their sentences and paid all of their court-ordered restitution," but his successor, former Gov. Matt Bevin (R), suspended the order days after taking office, per the Lexington Herald-Leader.

What he's saying: Kentucky's new governor explained his decision during his inaugural address, saying his faith "teaches me to treat others with dignity and respect."

  • "My faith also teaches me forgiveness," he said. "That's why on Thursday I will sign an executive order restoring voting rights to over 100,000 men and women who have done wrong in the past but are doing right now. They deserve to participate in our great democracy."

The big picture: Beshear, who previously served as Kentucky's attorney general, was sworn in Tuesday after narrowly defeating Bevin in the state's gubernatorial election last month.

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Former Gov. Matt Bevin in Lexington, Kentucky on Nov. 4. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Lawmakers are calling for an investigation into more than 400 pardons issued by former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) in the final days of his term, the New York Times reports.

What's happening: Bevin pardoned convicted murderers, rapists and drug offenders, NPR reports. Robert Stivers, GOP president of the State Senate, also asked the U.S. Attorney's Office to examine the pardons late Friday, per the Times.

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Jim Beam fined $600,000 for fish kill following July warehouse fire

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Jim Beam agreed to pay a $600,000 fine earlier this month and will also reimburse $112,000 to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet after a bourbon spill in July, AP reports.

Context: A massive fire broke out at a Jim Beam warehouse in July, sending whiskey, hose water, barrel residue and charred debris into the Kentucky and Ohio rivers. Kentucky officials found dead fish along 62 miles of Glenns Creek and the Kentucky River. Dead fish as a result of the spill were also found in the Ohio River, which a state official described as negligible, per AP.

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Nearly 100,000 Georgia voters to remain purged from voting rolls

"I'm a Georgia voter" stickers. Photo: Chris Rank/Corbis via Getty Images

A federal judge on Friday denied an effort led by the voting rights group Fair Fight Action to return roughly 98,000 Georgia voters to the state's voter rolls.

What's happening: This ruling is part of a larger initiative for the state to cancel approximately 300,000 inactive voter registrations, due to those voters moving away or not participating in elections.

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