Kentucky governor, secretary of state team up on law protecting victims of domestic violence

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s Democratic governor and Republican secretary of state teamed up Thursday to quickly implement a new state law aimed at protecting domestic violence victims from their abusers.

In a state plagued by one of the nation’s highest rates of domestic violence, the Safe at Home Act strengthens an address confidentiality program for victims. It took effect Thursday, and Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams signed emergency regulations guiding its implementation.

Their joint effort comes at a time when partisan rancor is intensifying ahead of Kentucky’s statewide elections in November. Both Beshear and Adams are seeking second terms. Adams is supporting Beshear’s challenger, Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, while the governor is backing Adams’ Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Buddy Wheatley.

Those partisan connections were pushed aside at the governor’s weekly news conference, as Beshear invited Adams to promote the new law. The secretary of state said his office worked closely with Beshear’s team on the quick implementation of the measure. Adams called it an example of officials reaching across party lines to “solve pressing problems and protect our most vulnerable.”

“I appreciate that good-faith partnership,” Adams said. “It serves Kentuckians well.”

It’s not the first time Beshear and Adams have teamed up on public policy. In 2020, they worked together on election rules designed to keep voters safe during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The next year, the governor signed legislation backed by Adams that expanded early voting in Kentucky.

Beshear said Thursday that the new bipartisan law bolsters the state’s response to an important public safety issue, offering added protections for victims of “these heinous and cowardly acts.”

“We cannot and will not solve this crisis alone,” the governor said. “Let’s work together, everybody looking out for each other.”

The new law allows people fleeing domestic abuse to shield their new home addresses from public record without having to obtain a court order. It expands an existing program that shielded victims’ addresses from voter rolls. The expansion will mask their addresses on other publicly available government records. Victims who sign a sworn statement will have their addresses shielded from the broader list of records.

They will be able to use the Secretary of State’s Office as their address on public records in place of their actual address. The program is administered at no cost to participants.

Republican Sen. Julie Raque Adams was the new law’s lead sponsor. The measure won overwhelming support from the GOP-dominated legislature and was signed by the governor earlier this year.

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