FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky legislative panel gave initial approval Wednesday to a proposed constitutional amendment to put limits on a governor's power to grant pardons or commute sentences.
The action stems from a flurry of last-minute pardons by former Gov. Matt Bevin.
Bevin, a Republican, issued hundreds of pardons between his electoral defeat last November and his final day in office in December. Several pardons stirred outrage from victims or their families, prosecutors and lawmakers. Attorney General Daniel Cameron asked the FBI to investigate.
The measure cleared the Senate State and Local Government Committee. It would amend the state’s constitution to strip a governor of pardon powers for the month leading up to a gubernatorial election and for the time between the election and inauguration.
Sen. Chris McDaniel, the bill's sponsor, called it a “small limitation" on a governor's pardon powers. The restriction would bring greater accountability to gubernatorial pardons, he said.
“If a governor believes strongly enough in a pardon, he or she can stand in front of the voters, or have their party stand in front of the voters, to decide their opinion of those actions," McDaniel said. “There will be no more hiding in the darkness of the last minutes of an administration."