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Black Caucus, Beshear Talk Possible Special Session On Police Reforms

Ryland Barton

Members of Kentucky’s Black Legislative Caucus met with Gov. Andy Beshear to discuss a possible special legislative session to pass bills dealing with police reforms and racial injustice.

The development comes as protests over the death of Breonna Taylor have continued for more than three months in Louisville and as the investigation into her death is still being investigated by Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office.

Rep. George Brown, a Democrat from Lexington, said that discussions about the possible special session are still ongoing.

“If it does not move the needle toward improving the situation in the commonwealth for all its citizens, we think it should not be done but we want to make sure that it is substantive,” Brown said.

Only the governor has the power to call the legislature into a special session; otherwise lawmakers won’t return for their regular session until January 5 of next year.

Last week, Republican leaders of the state Senate urged Beshear to call a special session to address the ongoing protests in Louisville.

Rep. Reginald Meeks, a Democrat from Louisville, said that Republicans haven’t reached out to Black lawmakers.

“It is appalling to us as a caucus that the Republicans would have an express concern about issues that affect the African American community in Kentucky, but not call us to be part of the discussion,” Meeks said.

There are only eight Black lawmakers in the 138-member legislature and they are all Democrats.

The calls for a special session also come as there are competing proposals to ban no-knock warrants across the state — a no-knock warrant was used to justify the raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment in March.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers of Manchester, has held press conferences calling for a bill to ban most no-knock warrants. 

Democratic Rep. Attica Scott of Louisville, proposed “Breonna’s Law” last month that would ban no-knock warrants, require police to be drug tested if they shoot their guns and create penalties for officers who don’t turn on their body cameras.

Ryland is the state capitol reporter for the Kentucky Public Radio Network, a group of public radio stations including WKU Public Radio. A native of Lexington, Ryland has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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