LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Use it, but don't abuse it. That is the idea behind a bill that would crack down on handicap parking permits in Kentucky.
One Louisville-area lawmaker says too many people who don't really need them have permits to park in handicap spots.
Danny and Joyce Smallwood have a handicap permit, and say they’re often forced to park too far for Joyce's bad back to handle. “It's rough. Sometimes I have to sit in the car,” said Joyce Smallwood.
“It seems like there are not enough handicap spots,” her husband Danny added.
The problem may not be the number of spots, but the number of permits. That number has exploded in Kentucky from 30,000 in 2008 to nearly 300,000 now.
Senate Bill 61 is designed to fix that. “Every one of us has been to a store or restaurant and seen someone park in a handicap place, and get out and walk unencumbered into the store,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Ernie Harris (R-Prospect.)
Since 2008, the permits have been free of charge.
The bill would add a $10 fee, and limit the permit to one per applicant.
Right now, it's one per car.
Harris says that’s an invitation to abuse. “So, if you have three vehicles in your household you would get two or three placards. So that's the major change,” said Harris.
Like the current law, SB 61 requires permits to be approved by a medical professional, but it would no longer allow county clerks to grant waivers.
David Allgood, of the Center for Accessible Living, backs the bill. “We face challenges with our wheelchairs and other things like that, and then you add the burden sometimes of people just being lazy,” he said.
The bill requires the permit to be renewed every six years.
The expiration date would be placed on a new sticker that cannot be altered, and is registered by the state.
“Will there still be some abuse to the system? Very likely, but this will hopefully reign it in,” said Harris.
The Smallwoods say if the bill makes accessible parking more available, they're all for it.
“A lot of people park in them that don't need it, and don't even have a handicap sticker,” said Danny Smallwood.
The bill has already passed the Senate 35-0, and is now in the House.
You can read SB 61 and track its progress here.
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