“Gov. Bevin’s executive action has added to the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over marriage licensing in Kentucky,” William Sharp, legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky, said in a news release.
Bevin also took aim at two of Democrats’ proudest moments this year: raising the minimum wage for some state workers and automatically restoring the voting rights of some nonviolent convicted felons who had completed their sentences.
Bevin revised a previous order from Beshear that raised the minimum wage for most state workers to $10.10 per hour. That action went into effect on July 1 and impacted about 800 people at a cost to taxpayers of $1.6 million. Bevin’s order said state agencies and vendors do not have to pay the higher wage, but added it would not affect people who have already received a raise.
“Really? Out of the things you could have done, since you have been elected that’s something you choose to come right out of the gate with? Come on,” said David Smith, executive director of the Kentucky State Employees Association.
Before leaving office, Beshear issued an executive order automatically restoring the voting rights of convicted felons who had completed their sentences and did not have any pending charges or restitution orders. Bevin suspended that order, saying felons would have to apply to his office on a case by case basis. The order does not affect anyone who has already had their rights restored.
Mantell Stevens lost his right to vote in 2001. He pleaded guilty to a felony drug possession charge, spent 30 days in jail and another three years on probation.
“I’m very upset, I’m hurt,” he said when he learned of Bevin’s order. “I don’t know why anybody in their right mind wouldn’t want anybody to have the right to vote. What is it that is so bad about us having the right to vote?”
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