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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.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Senate retirements could attract GOP troublemakers

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement highlights the twin challenge facing Senate Republicans: finding good replacement candidates and avoiding a pathway for potential troublemakers to join their ranks.

Why it matters: While the midterm elections are supposed to be a boon to the party out of power, the recent run of retirements — which may not be over — is upending that assumption for the GOP in 2022.

Congressional diversity growing - slowly

Data: Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center; Note: No data on Native Americans in Congress before the 107th Congress; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of non-white senators and House members in the 535-seat Congress has been growing steadily in the past several decades — but representation largely lags behind the overall U.S. population.

Why it matters: Non-whites find it harder to break into the power system because of structural barriers such as the need to quit a job to campaign full time for office, as Axios reported in its latest Hard Truths Deep Dive.

Staff for retiring Senate Republicans a K Street prize

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The retirements of high-profile Senate Republicans mean a lot of experienced staffers will soon be seeking new jobs, and Washington lobbying and public affairs firms are eyeing a potential glut of top-notch talent.

Why it matters: Roy Blunt is the fifth Republican dealmaker in the Senate to announce his retirement next year. Staffers left behind who can navigate the upper chamber of Congress will be gold for the city’s influence industry.