1:20pm

Wed January 25, 2012
State Capitol

Compromise Over Amish Buggies Sought

A proposal to allow more safety options for religious groups that operate buggies is making its way through the General Assembly. Senate Bill 75 unanimously passed committee today. It allows for one-inch reflective tape to be placed on buggies instead of a state-mandated reflective triangle.

The change comes after many Amish in western Kentucky have been sent to jail for refusing to place the triangles on their buggies. State Senator Ken Winters, the bill sponsor, says the legislature must look out for the safety of everyone on the road.

“The goal that each of us have to keep in mind is when that buggy is on the road, nighttime especially, we have to make sure that what we’re doing to that buggy makes it safer for them," Winters says. "But just as importantly makes it safer for us too. None of us is ever going to want to be involved in an accident with one of those buggies.”

Winters says he's talked with many religious groups who will accept the reflective tape option. That includes the Amish men who have rejected the triangle over religious concerns.

The bill would allow the tape to be placed on the buggy’s front, back and sides. Senator Damon Thayer says he’s happy about the new option, because he’s tired of jailing people over religious beliefs.

“I’m sort of tired of reading those stories about putting Amish folks in jail for following their religious beliefs," Thayer says. "And we’ve got a lot of other serious problems with out criminal justice law enforcement system where we don’t need to be clogging up the courts or jails with people who are simply following their religious beliefs.”

Supporters say the reflective tape is better for safety than the current triangle.