Kentucky lawmakers are backing away from a measure that would eliminate the office of constable in every county. Every county has an elected constable. But in the last year, many constables have been accused of being either unnecessary or corrupt. Originally, Senate Bill 30 was a constitutional amendment to eliminate constables. But the bill was unlikely to pass due to a gentlemen’s agreement in the legislature that each chamber would only push one amendment each session.
The Senate is considering an amendment for expanded gambling and the House favors one to expand voting rights for past felons. So bill sponsor Julie Denton changed SB30 to a regular bill that would allow county governments to dictate the duties of constables.
“This doesn’t affect whatever statutorily are their duties now, except that they, it would be local governments' decision to what of those duties, they would actually have and utilize," she says.
Kentucky Association of Counties attorney Rich Ornstein supports the change.
“They can not put additional duties beyond what the statues already allow," he says. "But it could take some of the responsibilities and duties away.”
The measure would not allow county governments to strip constables of all power. But it would allow counties to pay more and assign more responsibilities. That could inspire former police officers or more qualified candidates to run for constable, and eliminate issues surrounding unqualified or corrupt officials.