“Cooperation and Collaboration:” A Legislative Legacy of an Outgoing State Senator.

The first time I interviewed the senator. Whitney Westerfield in 2019, it was domestic violence. Specifically, why Kentucky hasn’t tracked any statistics on domestic violence, including how many people die from it each year.

My colleagues and I had written about this problem for a decadeBut Westerfield, a Republican from Fruit Hill, was the first lawmaker to appear genuinely shocked and dismayed that advocates used a newspaper clipping service to find out how many people died at the hands of intimate partners.

For the next three years, he worked on an invoice this would connect state and local law enforcement, courts and attorneys to obtain annual reporting data. In 2022, Senate Bill 271 passed the House and Senate unanimously, a nearly unprecedented bipartisan agreement on an issue that has been highly controversial in the past.

“The best bills are those that involve cooperation and collaboration,” Westerfield said.

As he prepares to retire after 12 years in the General Assembly, this is an incomplete list of the work Westerfield is most proud of, some of which has not even been adopted by the legislation.

Senate Bill 200 in 2014: A project to reform juvenile justice passed after a year-long bipartisan working group that was used as a model in other states. He focused on keeping juvenile offenders out of costly juvenile justice facilities, improved pre-court processes and created an oversight board.

Bill 8: In 2015, Democratic Representative John Tilly sponsored a bill that expanded protections against domestic violence to couples who are dating. Westerfield pushed the bill through the Senate.

Senate Bill 15: Marsy’s Law was a constitutional amendment that created constitutional rights for victims of crime. It was passed twice by voters, but was rejected the first time by the state Supreme Court because the full text of the amendment was not printed on the ballot.

Westerfield said he is also proud of the CROWN Act, which protects natural hair, which has failed twice…

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