Kentucky GOP lawmakers override Governor and undo efforts to prevent renter discrimination

A bill that will undo efforts in Kentucky’s two largest cities to ban landlords from discriminating against renters who use federal housing vouchers was restored Wednesday when Republican lawmakers quickly overrode the Democratic Governor’s veto.

The lopsided override votes in the House and Senate, completing work on the bill, came a day after Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed the legislation. The governor, who won reelection last November, touted his veto at a Tuesday rally that commemorated a landmark civil rights march 60 years ago in Kentucky’s capital city.

It was Beshear’s first veto of this year’s Legislative Session, but more are expected amid policy clashes between the Democratic Governor and the legislature’s GOP supermajorities. The Governor saw his vetoes routinely overridden during his first term, and the script was the same on Wednesday.

The latest clash came over the bill to block local ordinances prohibiting landlord discrimination against renters relying on federal housing assistance, including Section 8 vouchers. Such bans on source-of-income discrimination in housing were approved in Louisville and Lexington — the state’s two largest cities. The legislation will nullify those ordinances, the bill’s supporters said.

Republican Rep. Ryan Dotson said Wednesday that his bill was intended to protect personal property rights for landlords, and said there was nothing discriminatory about the measure.

“We think it is good policy and a protection of landowner rights,” Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said at a news conference after the veto was overridden.

In his veto message, Beshear said the GOP-backed measure removed local control over the issue. He said the bill mandates that local governments cannot adopt such ordinances when a person’s lawful source of income to pay rent includes funding from a federal assistance program.

“Federal assistance is an important tool to help veterans, persons with disabilities, the elderly and families of low income obtain housing,” the Governor said in his message. “House Bill 18 allows landlords to refuse to provide them that housing.”

Republican Sen. Stephen West, a key supporter of the legislation, acknowledged that there’s a housing crisis but said a main cause is the inflationary surge that he blamed on federal policies.

During the brief House discussion Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Daniel Grossberg said the bill contradicted the philosophy frequently espoused in the legislature.

“I find it ironic in this body that we often speak about local control and here we are wresting local control away from the city of Louisville,” he said.


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

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