LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – In a series of executive orders filed Tuesday, Ky. Governor Matt Bevin has undone a number of actions taken by former Gov. Steve Beshear – including wiping away the restoration of voting rights to non-violent felons.

“Today, I took action to uphold several commitments I made during my campaign so that we can implement real solutions that will help the people of Kentucky,” said Governor Bevin. “While I have been a vocal supporter of the restoration of rights, for example, it is an issue that must be addressed through the legislature and by the will of the people.”

Bevin has removed the requirement that county clerks sign marriage licenses in response to controversy stirred up by Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in the wake of the legalization of same-sex marriage this summer.

The ACLU, who fought legal battles with Kim Davis, countered Bevin's order -- saying the governor does not have the authority to make this decision. 

“The requirement that the county clerk’s name appear on marriage licenses is prescribed by Kentucky law and is not subject to unilateral change by the governor — conceded by the previous administration in court filings,” ACLU legal director William Sharp said in a statement. “Today, however, a new administration claims to have that authority.”

Another executive order overrides Beshear’s decision to raise the minimum wage for government employees and vendors; however, it stipulates that already raised wages will remain.

Bevin’s orders also put a moratorium on hiring of state workers, which he says is aimed at streamlining the government workforce. He also says any government vacancies will be reviewed to see if they actually need to be filled.

Finally, Bevin has reversed Beshear’s order to restore voting rights to non-violent felony offenders. Bevin says he has been a proponent of restoring felon’s voting rights but says it must be done by the legislature and not by executive order. Those whose rights have already been restored will not be affected.

A full list of Bevin’s executive orders is re-printed below:

  • To ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored, Executive Order 2015-048 directs the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives to issue a revised marriage license form to the offices of all Kentucky County Clerks.  The name of the County Clerk is no longer required to appear on the form.
  • Executive Order 2015-049 relieves executive branch agencies and vendors of the obligation to comply with the higher minimum wage established by Executive Order 2015-370, except as to classified employees with status who have already received increases as a result of the Executive Order.  Their remuneration will not be affected.
  • Executive Order 2015-050 prioritizes effective and efficient management of state government operations by implementing a new moratorium on hiring.  This order removes all oversight of the merit system hiring from the Governor’s Office. Unlike Governor Beshear’s Executive Order which had the Secretary of the Governor’s Executive Cabinet approve all personnel actions regarding merit employees, this Executive Order transfers that responsibility to the Personnel Secretary.  Approval of non-merit employees will remain the duty of the Secretary of the Governor’s Executive Cabinet.  Furthermore, effective immediately, all vacant positions in any agency will be reviewed to determine if they are necessary to the maintenance of essential government services.
  • Executive Order 2015-051 rescinds Governor Beshear’s Executive Order 2008-471 which established the Governor’s Employee Advisory Council (GEAC).  The GEAC was created to discuss issues pertaining to wages, hours, and terms of employment for merit employees, but is non-value added given that the Governor has no power to extend negotiation and collective bargaining rights to employees of the Commonwealth.  The merit system, along with the policies and procedures enacted through the Personnel Cabinet, provide sufficient protections and oversight of these issues and functions in a streamlined and efficient manner.
  • While Governor Bevin has been a strong advocate for the reinstatement of non-violent felony offenders’ voting and civil rights, Executive Order 2015-052 suspends the provisions of Executive Order 2015-871 as that order is contrary to the Kentucky Constitution and undermines the very right it seeks to restore by circumventing elected representatives in the state legislature and the voice of the people at the ballot box.  The Office of the Governor will continue to utilize the processes and procedures under current law in the same manner as the previous administration pending further study and consideration by the Kentucky General Assembly.  This Executive Order does not affect anyone whose rights have already been restored by the previous Executive Order. 

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