What to know about down ballot initiatives


Brennan Eberwine and Jayvon Rankin

This year most people will have the presidential race on their mind when they go to the polls or fill out their absentee ballot. It’s also important to look at some of the initiatives down the ballot and know what they’ll mean for you and for the state of Kentucky so you can be an informed voter.

Marsy’s Law

Marsy’s Law is a constitutional amendment that would change the Kentucky Constitution to include additional crime victim rights in the constitution. These include giving a victim a right to timely notifications of court proceedings, the right to be present at court proceedings and the right to be notified and heard in the consideration of a pardon or the commutation of the accused.

The bill has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky as redundant and unnecessary because of victims rights already outlined in the Kentucky constitution. Another criticism is that the amendment’s language is confusing and contradictory with one Kentucky Supreme Court Justice saying “I don’t know what this means.” after analyzing the amendment. Another issue pointed out is that the amendment asks for substantial resources without allocation, meaning that the amendment could potentially cost millions without way of paying for it. In North Carolina, it was estimated that it cost $30.5 million a year.

Marsy’s Law on the cost of the amendment has said  “The cost of implementing Marsy’s Law will be minimal in Kentucky,” and “This particular right is already required by Kentucky statute (KRS 421.500), and the tools to fulfill that requirement are already in place here.”

Judicial Term Limits

There is another question on all Kentucky ballots this year and that is Constitutional Amendment Two. This amendment has to do with changing the term limits for some judicial minded offices. First, there would be an increase in office terms of commonwealth attorney’s from six to eight years starting in 2030. Next, there would be an increase in office terms for district judges from four years to eight years starting in 2022. Finally, there would be a change in attorney licensing requirements for district judges from two years to eight years, beginning in 2022. 

JCPS Tax Levy

As of the time of writing this article, a Jefferson County circuit judge has ruled the JCPS property tax increase initiative moot, as many signatures were found duplicated or inaccurate information was displayed. Votes for the referendum will not count and the initiative is approved. Funds from this tax increase will be used to build three new schools in JCPS and will also be used to offer renovations to many schools around the district.