Legislative Perspective from Rep. Lisa Willner, August 30, 2020

Ban “Conversion Therapy”

On Tuesday of this week, I pre-filed and testified on my bipartisan bill to ban the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy” in Kentucky, before the Kentucky Legislature’s joint interim committee on Licensing and Occupations. The research on practices to change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or romantic attractions is robust, and the evidence is clear.  These practices are ineffective, and associated with dangerous and, too often, deadly consequences.  The rate of suicide attempts for LGBTQ youth exposed to “conversion therapy” is 42%. Other serious risks include depression, anxiety, self-harm, and increased high-risk sexual behaviors.

My testimony may be viewed here: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox?projector=1

Also testifying on Tuesday: Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr (primary sponsor of the Senate version of the bill); filmmaker, “conversion therapy” survivor, and courageous human, Zach Meiners; and Dr. Bob Wheeler, longtime pastor at First Baptist Church of Frankfort, and current member of the Board of Trustees of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky.  The bipartisan support for this initiative continues to grow.

There are far too many stories of sincere and well-intentioned parents subjecting their children to these dangerous practices, without ever being informed of the extreme risks, or understanding the very real dangers.

While our goal is to pass this legislation during the 2021 session, we are also committed to doing everything we can to spread the word about the dangers of “conversion therapy” for  far too many LGBTQ Kentucky young people.  Those of us involved in the effort are grateful for the media coverage of the committee hearing , and hopeful that these news stories may help change hearts and minds for anyone considering exposing their child to these practices. 

Media coverage of Tuesday’s committee hearing: 

New York Times – https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/08/25/us/ap-us-conversion-therapy-kentucky.html

WFPL –  https://wfpl.org/ky-lawmakers-discuss-conversion-therapy-ban/

Courier-Journal – https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/ky-legislature/2020/08/25/kentucky-legislators-discuss-proposed-conversion-therapy-ban/5632219002/

WDRB News – https://www.wdrb.com/news/kentucky-lawmakers-resume-push-to-curb-conversion-therapy/article_f07c1de8-e7ae-11ea-8a8d-1f1908734cc3.html

WLKY News – https://www.wlky.com/article/lawmakers-advocates-push-for-ban-on-conversion-therapy-in-ky/33798296


General Election Voting in Kentucky 2020

During this week’s interim committee on State Government, legislators received a fall voting update from the Kentucky County Clerk’s Association, and from Kentucky Board of Elections Executive Director Jared Dearing.  
 
Good news from the primary: turnout for Kentucky’s primary election was the highest in 12 years, with no spikes in COVID cases traceable to the Primary Election.  The County Clerk’s office and State Board of Elections are using lessons learned from the primary election to help voting go as smoothly as possible this fall.  An important factor in their efforts is getting accurate information out to voters.  I’ll do all I can to pass along voting information.  
 
The Clerk’s offices are predicting 80% voter turnout this November!  Because of anticipated high volume, voters are encouraged to make a voting plan, and to plan to vote early once you’ve made your decisions about who to vote for.    Because of Emergency Regulations approved last week, voting early should be easier than ever for Kentucky voters. 
 
3 Ways to Vote:1. Early in-person before Election Day, Oct. 13th – Nov. 2nd, including 3 Saturdays. A first for Kentucky!  
The County Clerks are encouraging this method to avoid lines and possible USPS delays of mailed ballots, and for ease, speed, and efficiency of processing.  Early in-person voting locations in Jefferson Co. TBA. 

2. By absentee ballot, which may bereturned by mail or ballot dropbox.  Jefferson Co. ballot dropbox locations TBA. 

 IF YOU INTEND TO VOTE IN PERSON, DO NOT REQUEST A MAIL-IN BALLOT!

Request your absentee ballot here: https://vrsws.sos.ky.gov/abrweb/  You will need to provide a reason for your absentee ballot request.  Note that “concern about contracting or spreading COVID-19” is an acceptable response.

3.  In-person on Election Day, November 3rd.   (Jefferson County locations TBA)

Ballots are being prepared now, and are expected to arrive at the County Clerk’s offices in mid-September. The Jefferson County Clerk’s office is working on details for drop box, early in-person, and Election Day voting, and hopes to announce those details in the coming week. 
 
To register or update your voter registration, visit: https://vrsws.sos.ky.gov/ovrweb/  Deadline for updates and registration is  October 5. 4:00 pm. 
 
The County Clerk’s office is anticipating very high voter turnout, and Poll Workers are needed!  Apply here:  https://vrsws.sos.ky.gov/ovrweb/pollworker/  
 

On the Ballot in 2020

The Presidential election and McConnell/McGrath Senate race make this a vitally important election year for our country, our state, and the future of our democracy.  Two proposed Constitutional Amendments will also be on the ballot (more on those in a future update), in addition to a number of state, county, and local races. 

I’ll be back on the ballot this November as well.  If you’re a supporter in or near the 35th District and would like to show your support for my re-election with a sign, click to  request a Lisa Willner yard sign.


As always, you may contact me by replying to this email, or at Lisa.Willner@lrc.ky.gov.  You may also contact me on legislative matters by phone at (502) 859-6100, ext. 659.  

Stay safe, be well,
Lisa