March 24, 2020
To: Members of the Kentucky Senate
From: Americans for Tax Reform
Re: HB 424
On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our supporters across Kentucky, I urge you to support House Bill 424. This legislation would increase the threshold for being charged with a felony for theft to $1,000.
This is a commonsense change that updates the current law to account for inflation, which better reflects the intent of the law. This helps avoid increasing the jail and prison population with offenders who committed crimes that would not have led to felony sentences if committed years ago.
It also alleviates the collateral consequences we see as felony convictions make it more difficult for people who are leaving incarceration to find jobs, housing, and become productive members of society. These consequences can make it more likely someone reoffends, and public safety is actually adversely impacted in the end.
According to PEW, from 2000 to 2018, 39 states increased their felony theft thresholds, some twice, and Florida can be added following legislative action in 2019. Further, increasing the threshold did not lead to more theft, or theft of higher value items. PEW found that following South Carolina’s increase from a $1,000 to $2,000 threshold, the property crime rate continued to fall.
Meanwhile, Kentucky has not updated the felony theft threshold since 2009, and more than half of new theft-related charges are for values under $1,000.
With a $100 million increase in the state corrections budget expected in the next few years, a commonsense fix for the felony theft threshold is also a smart move for Kentucky taxpayers who can’t afford to keep footing ever-rising costs that do not lead to better public safety outcomes.
For these reasons, ATR urges you to support and pass HB 424.
Grover G. Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform