FRANKFORT – The time-honored tradition of naming state buildings and roads after living politicians in Kentucky would be curtailed under a bill approved by a state Senate committee today.
“It also reminds us that when we make decisions on using public funds to build things those funds were provided through the sweat and toil of the citizenry,” bill sponsor Sen. Stephen West, R-Paris, said while testifying before the Senate State and Local Government Committee. “When we appropriate money, we are simply moving money over to build these things that were paid for by the people.
“We really don’t need any special recognition for that. We are just doing our job.”
Known as Senate Bill 72, the legislation would specifically prohibit the naming of any state building, transportation project, program or initiative after a living statewide current or former constitutional officer, state legislator, state judge or state employee.
“As we are all aware, putting someone’s name on a building or public infrastructure can have a huge political impact,” West said. “There is nothing like going into your district and unveiling that new building.”
He said that SB 72 takes the politics out of these naming decisions.
“It is easy, up here, when we make these decisions for us to somehow think we are entitled to that,” West said. “This bills aims to do away with that.”
He said the bill also eliminates the possibility of unintended consequences. West asked committee members to imagine the embarrassment that would come from naming a courthouse after a judge who would go on to commit a heinous crime.
“That is just one hypothetical but you could extrapolate this out to numerous situations for crimes and even noncriminal activity,” West said.
Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, spoke in support of the bill but asked if former or current federal office holders were included in the prohibition. West said they were not included in the ban.
Majority Floor Leader Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, also spoke in favor of the bill but too had a question. He wanted to know if the legislation would be retroactive. West said it would not be retroactive.
SB 72 now goes to the Senate floor for further consideration.