Sanctuary Cities, Blue Lives Matter, & Louisville’s Government Moving to Frankfort

Sanctuary Cities

  • The term “sanctuary” as a place of refuge goes back literally thousands of years. If you saw the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame, you saw an example of what the term meant in antiquity.
  • The book of Numbers in the Hebrew Bible, chapter 35 actually includes a concept of six “cities of refuge” where people who killed accidentally could go and live without facing persecution.
  • That is my faith tradition but the idea extends into all the world’s major religions.
  • In 1980, during the lame duck period of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, the United States pass the Refugee Act, which put the USA in compliance with the 1967 “Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees”. Despite having ratified the treaty, law relating to accepting refugees had not been taken up. The last months of Carter’s presidency saw to fixing that. It wasn’t a popular move.
  • At about the same time that this law was passed, there were large civil wars in Central America (Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala). Large numbers of migrants from these countries came to America seeking asylum and refugee status.
  • The law of the United States is that countries that take part in atrocities cannot receive federal aid. The Reagan administration, though, was intervening on the side of these governments, which were mostly fighting Marxist rebels.
  • In order to intervene on the sides of these governments, the Reagan administration could not make it official policy that these government were committing atrocities, and therefore people fleeing those governments could not be characterized as “refugees”, instead receiving the “economic migrant” tag.
  • Large numbers of religious organizations (churches, synagogues, mosques, etc) began designating themselves “sanctuaries”. These sanctuaries began sponsoring these “economic migrants” as though they were refugees, openly defying the law of the United States. They cited the Nuremberg principles laid out in the post WWII Nazi tribunals.
  • It is widely thought that Los Angeles began the “Sanctuary City” movement in 1979 when it adopted “Special Order 40”. However, this is only one example of how this term is unclear and confusing.
  • Special Order 40 in Los Angeles stated, in part, that “officers shall not initiate police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person.” This was the first policy of it’s kind, but the order DOES NOT prevent LAPD from turning over arrested people for deportation, from sharing fingerprints with ICE or INS, and this order actually instructs LAPD to turn over arrestees to federal authorities if the individual is found to be in the country illegally.
  • Other cities go further. Many cities (San Francisco is an example) do not allow police to inquire about immigration status, and do not use city money to assist with immigration enforcement.
  • On January 25, President Trump signed an executive order that said sanctuary cities are “not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary [of Homeland Security].” It also gave those two individuals the ability to say whether or not a city was, in fact, a sanctuary city.
  • Despite this EO, the city of Cincinnati’s mayor declared Cincinnati a “sanctuary city” on January 30. After this happened, many called on Mayor Fischer in Louisville to do the same.
  • On that same day, Louisville held a pro-immigration rally, where Mayor Fischer said that the city would not spend city dollars enforcing federal immigration laws, and would not use the police to enforce immigration law. However, he never used the word “sanctuary”.
  • Later, Mayor Fischer said that “What we say is we’re a welcoming city. This term sanctuary city has become very politically divisive, and obviously, there is no one place that you register to become a sanctuary city. So we explained what we’re doing”
  • Mijente Louisville started a petition that has more than 2600 signatures seeking to have Louisville claim the “sanctuary city” tag. Aaron Yarmuth, the owner of LEO, wrote an editorial endorsing that idea.
  • Mijente delivered the petition to Mayor Fischer on Monday, and said both “it’s time Mayor Greg Fischer and the Metro Council join other cities across the country and give Louisville an official sanctuary city designation.” and “He doesn’t have to declare sanctuary city. As long as the policies are there to protect the undocumented community, we’re OK with that. But the policies have to be there. We want a resolution.” (WFPL, Roxanne Scott)
  • What are the pros and cons of claiming the tag?
  • Pro: show outward support for immigrants and opposition to the Trump administration. Plus, the onus is on the government to name sanctuary cities.
  • Con: potentially give up a lot of federal dollars.
  • The Courier-Journal is running a poll about this, as of Sunday, “Pro” was winning.
  • If you are looking for lists of “Sanctuary Cities”, they are almost entirely maintained by anti-immigration groups.
  • Pro-immigrant groups have been organizing around making policy changes: Mijente Louisville and L-SURJ lobbied for and the JCPS school board passed a “Safe Haven” resolution, which states that JCPS personnel cannot release a student’s immigration status to federal officials.


HB 202 — Moving Louisville’s Government to Frankfort

  • Six Republicans from Eastern Jefferson County or Oldham county have come together to sponsor legislation which would make major changes to the Metro Government in the city of Louisville.
  • Two of the sponsors, Ken Fleming and Jerry Miller, are alumni of the Metro Council in Louisville.
  • There are several changes in the bill, both big and small.
  • Big: the number of consecutive terms that a mayor can serve would be reduced from three to two. If the mayor’s job becomes open, the Governor (instead of the council) would select a replacement (all other cities have this structure, except Louisville and Lexington).
  • Small(ish): the Metro Council would have subpoena power over many members of the executive branch, and give the council substantially more oversight power over the mayor’s office. There would be a “deputy mayor”, and the legislation reads as though the mayor would run on a ticket with the deputy mayor. (It doesn’t seem like this person will have much to do).
  • The bill has been referred to the House local government committee. It’s not on the calendar fo the committee yet, but three of the most liberal Louisville Democrats are on that committee — Attica Scott, Mary Lou Marzian, and Reggie Meeks. So, if it does get a hearing, there might be some fireworks.
  • Let’s take a step backwards, and talk about why this bill is even possible. All of a city’s authority stems from the state. The state constitution and statutes lay out exactly how a city is incorporated and what authority a city has once it is incorporated. In the 1970s, Lexington expressed interest in merging with Fayette County, and in 1972, the state government passed a law allowing cities to merge with counties into what is called an “Urban-County Government”. The law that was passed allowed on these cities to merge with their counties:
  • Frankfort — Franklin
  • Georgetown — Scott
  • Bowling Green — Warren
  • Owensboro — Daviess
  • Ashland — Boyd
  • Franklin — Simpson
  • Campbellsville — Taylor
  • In 2000, a different form of merger (“Consolidated Government”) was approved by the state, which Louisville opted for in a referendum. Louisville had voted against merger before in 1956, 1982, and 1983. (Fun fact: most liberal groups and elected officials were opposed to the merger).
  • No merger would have been possible without the state government’s approval. The chapter of KRS that allowed Louisville to merge with Jefferson County was 67C. This is the chapter being amended by Rep. Fleming’s bill.
  • This bill is a part of a national trend. Across the country, Republicans have grown their authority in state government while Democrats have consolidated most of the power in the cities. There is federalism between the states and national government, stemming from the 10th amendment to the constitution “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”. There is no 10th amendment for the states and their cities.
  • HB2 and trans protections in Charlotte
  • Denver bans fracking in it’s city limits, but CO allows it (CO Supreme Court sided with state).
  • Arkansas and Alabama seeking to ban “sanctuary city” from being declared in their cities.
  • 23 states ban localities from raising minimum wage (KY dealt with this problem and we talked about it).


HB 14-”Blue Lives Matter”

  • HB 14 passed in the House 77–13 on Monday. HB 14 is known as the “Blue Lives Matter” bill. Kevin Bratcher, Republican Rep. from Louisville, introduced the bill, and tried to stay away from calling it the Blue Lives Matter bill, but it’s essentially the same as a Louisiana law that was called it
  • Though it passed the House really easily, there was over an hour of debate and some protest going on
  • It gives hate crime protection to law enforcement officers and emergency responders
  • Kentucky’s current hate crime law applies to crimes committed because of race, color, religion, sexual orientation and national origin.
  • So this doesn’t create like, a new crime of anything. It is already a crime to assault a police officer. Even a minor assault on an officer is an assault in the third degree, which is a felony. Can seek death penalty on killing officer. What HB 14 would do give judges discretion in denying probation or parole because it’s a hate crime. So it affects sentencing, doesn’t create a new crime itself. It can be the “sole factor” for denying parole, probation, etc.
  • Supporters say:
  • “It gives important recognition to first responders.”
  • Would show that we don’t tolerate the “hunting” of first responders — Robert Benvenuti of Lexington
  • Cited ambush of Lexington firefighters to show that first responders needed greater protection
  • A fire lieutenant was shot while responding to a shooting victim in 2004
  • Modeled after a Louisiana bill that was passed in the wake of police shootings
  • Opponents say:
  • This bill exists to be politically divisive. There’s no evidence that anyone attacking police, fire or emergency responders wouldn’t “face the full brunt of Kentucky law.”
  • Will disproportionately affect minorities and protestors
  • Hate crime laws protect members of suspect classes — LEOs are not a suspect class
  • So there was a little bit of controversy with Rep. Mckenzie Cantrell, a Democrat from Louisville
  • Mckenzie Cantrell has an interesting district — District 38
  • Covers parts of South Louisville — Iroquois, Beechmont, Taylor Blvd.
  • She put out a Facebook statement: “The most common change requested by District 38 voters of every color and nationality during the election season was an increased police presence. I told my constituents that I would work for them to receive more police protection. I decided that voting against the bill would make it harder, or maybe impossible, for me to work with local leaders to increase the police presence in the 38th District. I cannot both make that request for my constituents and be seen as being anti-law enforcement.”
  • But she agrees that it was created to be divisive
  • She goes on to talk about a different bill that she hopes people will support



George Brown had already filed HB76 before we recorded last week, which is a “ban the box” bill which would extend the provision to private businesses. Attica Scott signed on as a co-sponsor last week

In Governor Bevin’s State of the Commonwealth address, he hinted that ‘tax reform’ may actually mean more revenue for the state

State Auditor Mike Harmon released his audit of the Benefind early last year, and placed the blame mostly on the Beshear administration. Harmon is a Republican.

Two Kentuckians were nominated for Best Country Album at the Grammy’s (Sturgill Simpson and Loretta Lynn), and Sturgill Simpson won.