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KCAA 2014 Distinguished Legislator of the Year

LEXINGTON, KY — Third District State Senator Whitney Westerfield was selected as the 2014 Legislator of the Year by the Kentucky County Attorney Association (KCAA) on Thursday, August 21, at the annual Prosecutors Conference in Lexington. The award was made by Christian County Attorney J. Michael Foster, President of the KCAA.


Foster praised Senator Westerfield, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for being “sensitive and attuned to the needs of prosecutors in the state.”  During the 2014 General Assembly session, Senator Westerfield spearheaded significant revisions of the state juvenile justice code designed to reduce the number of juvenile status offenders who are incarcerated by the Commonwealth. 

Senator Westerfield’s Senate Bill 200 was the result of a two year-long study of juvenile offender issues by the Task Force on the Unified Juvenile, created by the 2012 General Assembly and reauthorized by the 2013 General Assembly.  Senate Bill 200 passed the 2014 General Assembly and was signed into law by the Governor. Foster noted that Senator Westerfield did an “amazing job” of listening to the concerns of the county attorneys as the issue was being studied and the bill was being drafted, and incorporating prosecutors’ suggestions into the substance of the bill.


Foster also praised Senator Westerfield for his work on legislation in the 2014 General Assembly impacting the traffic safety programs run by county attorneys. Fees from these programs help cover the county attorney office expenses.  Foster stated that Westerfield “went to war for us” over this legislation in order to protect this funding stream.


Senator Westerfield, a former Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney in Christian County, expressed his gratitude to the KCAA for the award and his camaraderie with the prosecutors who daily work to protect the safety of communities and families across Kentucky saying, "As a former prosecutor, I am particularly proud of this award, and thankful I can continue fighting for public safety in the Kentucky Senate.

Interim Meeting 1

With the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex serving as host, the General Assembly’s Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary traveled to the region on Friday for its first meeting following this year’s legislative session.

Week In Review - February 1

FRANKFORT— In anticipation of continuing the Regular Session next week, I spent several productive days reviewing legislation and preparing for the issues that lie ahead. During this three week break, I have held several meetings across the district and in Frankfort with a wide range of people from advocates against domestic violence to the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court, John D. Minton, Jr. The highlight this week was my first Interim Joint Judiciary Committee meeting, alongside my friend and colleague, Rep. John Tilley.  The meeting was productive, as we heard testimony from Budget and Justice officials on the criminal justice reforms approved by Kentucky lawmakers in 2011 with HB 463, with a particular focus on whether those reforms are having the intended results: Is the Commonwealth saving money from skyrocketing correctional costs?  Are criminal actions being adjudicated properly?  According to the speakers, the early numbers seem to indicate positive results, with savings in the neighborhood of $35 million or more since the legislation took effect in 2011, and with recidivism rates dropping with successful monitored court release.

All provisions found in HB 463 are projected by the Office of the State Budget Director to save the state $422 million over 10 years. Other savings are projected to come from reduced recidivism such as, use of citations rather than arrests for low-level misdemeanor offenders, and increased use of substance abuse treatment paid for by reinvestment of savings from reduced incarceration costs, among other things, according to reports on the legislation.  While these early reports seem positive, I will be following the numbers closely over this calendar year to confirm the progress continues, and to be sure that we are still providing for the security of the citizens of the Commonwealth.

I have also starting setting up the agendas for the Senate Judiciary meetings over the next month, where I expect to discuss SB 23, Sen. John Schickel’s post-conviction DNA bill, which will allow certain convicted felons to apply for DNA testing to establish innocence, and at little to no cost to the taxpayer; SB 27, by Sen. Tom Buford, which reduces the period of real property redemption from 1 year to 6 months, helping the sale of real estate in Kentucky, and SB 47, my first bill, allowing for DNA samples to be taken upon a felony arrest.  SB 47 mirrors a bill filed in the House by Rep. Marzian, and is inspired by the tragic death of Katie Sepich, a young woman from New Mexico who was killed in 2003, but whose killer was convicted through the use of DNA evidence.

I have a bill ready to file before next week’s filing deadline to repeal the prevailing wage in Kentucky, which would free up millions of dollars for use to remedy the state’s pension debt or give teachers and many other state employees a long-overdue cost of living salary adjustment.

I look forward to next week when we will be confronting these difficult challenges on the Senate floor and hearing from the Governor during his State of the Commonwealth address. Please feel free to call me toll-free at 800-372-7181, or email me here, with any questions, concerns, or comments.  Bookmark this site or visit the General Assembly's site at, to see regular updates about the work underway in Frankfort.