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Louisville will lobby for public safety reforms during 2022 General Assembly session

Louisville Mayor, Metro Hall, Louisville
Louisville Mayor, Metro Hall, Louisville

Louisville Metro officials have announced a long list of policy priorities ahead of the state legislative session that will start on Tuesday. Mayor Greg Fischer outlined the city’s priorities along with a bipartisan group of local lawmakers on Monday. 

The main focus is on public safety reforms after the city saw the highest number of homicides in its history during 2021. Among their requests for state lawmakers are mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms and punishing gun owners for not safely storing their weapons, a proposal the legislature previously shot down. Louisville leaders say local police departments should also be allowed to destroy seized guns instead of putting them up for auction, which is the current protocol under state law.

“If Frankfort doesn’t want to act on a statewide basis, communities in Kentucky could be granted the local authority to make our own decisions about gun safety,” Fischer said. “We can’t act on some of these very modest proposals until and unless Frankfort does, because we’re preempted.” 

Kentucky law currently prohibits local governments from passing any ordinances regulating guns and ammunition.

Louisville also wants the General Assembly to strengthen the city’s Group Violence Intervention (GVI) program by requiring a risk and needs assessment for juveniles convicted of violent crimes. The GVI program brings together law enforcement and social services to provide counseling, addiction treatment or job training resources to victims and people believed to be at risk of engaging in violence.

Russell Coleman, a former U.S. Attorney nominated by President Donald Trump, said this request to legislators is an acknowledgement that alleviating gun violence in Louisville starts with its youth.

“So many of the trigger-pullers and, unfortunately, so many of the victims are kids,” Coleman said. “The modest requests of our legislators is to take a look at our juvenile justice system to make it more efficient and effective.”

Another substantial portion of Louisville’s priorities center on infrastructure needs. Officials said they will ask the General Assembly to support roads projects in growing parts of Jefferson County, like a $21 million project to reimagine 9th Street between downtown and the West End.

District 19 Metro Council Member Anthony Piagentini, a Republican, said the state should also step up to help Louisville remediate contaminated land that could be redeveloped, otherwise known as a brownfield. 

“If we want to do more to solve the problem of wealth inequities and other inequalities across our city, one of the fastest ways we can do that is to remediate brownfields, particularly in majority minority residential areas,” Piagentini said. 

Louisville will also join the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties in supporting a constitutional amendment that would allow local governments to levy their own sales tax to fund public services. That amendment was first proposed in 2013, but has for years failed to garner enough support.

Fischer stressed the need for bipartisan discussions between Louisville, a city dominated by Democrats, and the Republican majority in both houses of the General Assembly. He said both sides should be able to find common ground on the city’s priorities.

“Frankly, people are not served by the forever stoking of differences; we need breakthroughs,” Fischer said. “I believe that by working together, state and city officials can seize this moment and work on transforming our state as a better place for each and every one of our citizens.”

Louisville Metro is expected to advocate for its priorities through hired lobbyists, as well as local officials leaning on their relationships with state lawmakers. A full list of Louisville’s legislative priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session can be found here

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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