Making Democracy Work

Action and Advocacy

FAIR & AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Dear Mr. Hill:
The League of Women Voters of Louisville believes that decent, suitable, desirable, and affordable housing should be available for all in our community. We support both governmental and private initiatives which will increase the development of permanent, affordable housing for both renters and homeowners. Therefore, we support the Land Development Code Revisions, as proposed by the Fair & Affordable Housing LDC Sub-Committee. These are found in section FAH Items 1 through 5. These revisions offer incentives to developers to provide diversity housing and provide bonuses for affordable housing. These revisions allow for multi-family residential mixes in additional zones. This is important in making possible more age integration. These revisions and incentives also may lead to less racial segregation.

Pat Murrell, President
League of Women Voters of Louisville

WALMART: TAKING CARE OF CUSTOMERS, REALLY

Dear Mr. Reverman and the Planning Commission:

The League of Women Voters of Louisville supports comprehensive urban growth and land use policies that reconcile conflicting demands of development and environmental preservation which are in the long-term public interest.

Metro Louisville has an extensive Land Development Code. A code is only as good as its enforcement. Therefore, the League of Women Voters, urges the Planning Commission and the Metro Council to uphold this code in regards to the proposed Wal-Mart at the property at 18th and Broadway. The code calls for the building to be placed at the street, and not 400 feet back.

Given that the percentage of families owning automobiles in that area is low, and given 18th & Broadway includes several major TARC routes, it can be assumed that many of the customers coming to that site would be coming by bus. Therefore, having to cross a large parking lot on foot, would be inconvenient and hazardous. Thus, there would seem to be no justification for granting a variance to the code, since adequate parking could be provided on the side or back of the property.
The code should be enforced.

Pat Murrell, President
League of Women Voters of Louisville

RESTORATION OF FELON VOTING RIGHTS

Kentucky is one of 3 states that permanently disenfranchise all persons with felony convictions even after they have completed their full sentence. According to the state constitution, the governor can restore rights. Felons can apply to the governor seeking to have their voting rights restored. To make restoration of rights automatic, it will require a constitutional amendment.

The League is supporting this constitutional amendment, as provided for in HB 70 and SB 15.

Why is the League supporting this? First, because we believe that the right of every citizen to vote is essential to democracy. According to a League study in January, 2013, there are 180,000 disenfranchised voters who have completed their sentence, and in most states would have automatically had their rights restored. In 2012, 1,441 applied for restoration and 1,152 were granted (80%). (Note that there are sometimes restrictions based on the crime that was committed.)

Second, because the effects of not being allowed to vote is very discriminatory. Kentucky possesses the second highest African American disenfranchisement rate in the country. The state population is 89% white and 8% African American, but 24% of the total prison population is African American. More than one of every five African American adults in Kentucky cannot vote, which is nearly triple the national disenfranchisement rate. (Why African Americans are more likely to be incarcerated is another topic of study.)

Should not the young, black, father who served time for drug possession have the right to vote for the school board member who decides what kind of education his children will get?


Pat Murrell, President
League of Women Voters of Louisville

And More Recently . . . from LWV President Pat

At the July 24th Metro Council meeting, they unanimously adopted the following resolution:

A RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE AMENDMENT OF THE KENTUCKY CONSTITUTION 145 TO RESTORE VOTING RIGHTS TO PERSONS CONVICTED OF FELONIES OTHER THAN TREASON, INTENTIONAL KILLING, A SEX CRIME, OR BRIBERY, THE RIGHT TO VOTE AT THE EXPIRATION OF PROBATION OR FINAL DISCHARGE FROM PAROLE OR MAXIMUM EXPIRATION OF SENTENCE.

On behalf of the League, I made the following statement in favor of the resolution:

The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 when the amendment passed giving women the right to vote. We take voting very seriously. To us, voting is a responsibility and a duty for all citizens, essential for democracy.

A report by the League of Women Voters of Kentucky in January, 2013, shows that there are 181,000 Kentucky residents who have completed their sentences for a felony conviction. The only way any of these residents can restore their voting rights is by petitioning the governor. In 2013, 1,132 had their civil rights restored.

Further, Kentucky has the second highest African American disenfranchisement rate in the country: 22% in Kentucky compared with national rate of 7.66%. One of every five African American adults in Kentucky cannot vote. Kentucky is one of only 3 states that does not automatically restore rights.

Once when I was registering voters at a day care center, a young man, coming to pick up his children, pulled me aside and explained that he could not register. What struck me was that not only could he not vote for president, but he could not vote in races that affect his DAILY LIFE: school board member, judges, metro council member. This is grossly unfair.

The Kentucky League of Women Voters has supported the bill for restoration of felony rights each time it passed in the Kentucky House. With your support, we may get it through the Senate next time. Therefore, we applaud the Council for introducing this resolution and urge your continued efforts to restore these vital rights to all citizens.