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Governor Matt Bevin, a darling of the Tea Party, gave his inaugural speech on the Capitol Steps in Frankfort, Ky., on Dec. 8, 2015. (Photo: Pablo Alcala/ Lexington Herald Leader)

Governor Matt Bevin, a darling of the Tea Party, gave his inaugural speech on the Capitol Steps in Frankfort, Ky., on Dec. 8, 2015. (Photo: Pablo Alcala/ Lexington Herald Leader)

Kentucky Lurches Right After New Governor's Regressive Rampage

In one day, Tea Party 'darling' Matt Bevin revokes voting rights for tens of thousands and rolls back minimum wage hikes

Lauren McCauley

Capitulating to the demands of the infamous Kim Davis is not all the newly-anointed Kentucky governor is up to these days.

Less than one month after taking office, Republican Governor Matt Bevin late Tuesday issued a series of executive orders that rolled back the minimum wage, stripped tens of thousands of their right to vote, and sent the state spiraling into regressive new territory.

After his election, Bevin—known as a Tea Party "darling"—vowed that he would pass a measure "right away" that would remove county clerk's names from marriage licenses to appease those, like Davis, who object to issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

That promise was fulfilled on Tuesday—along with many other gifts to the conservative base.

Among them was a directive to reverse an order issued by his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, which restored voting rights to felons. Bevin's order strips the new rights from roughly 140,000 former felons who are "overwhelmingly African American and lower income," according to reports.

Kentucky, once again, is among only three states in the nation, along with Florida and Iowa, which permanently bars citizens with past convictions from voting.

Bevin also rolled back Beshear's June 8 executive order which raised the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for state workers and contractors—a move that Kenny Colston with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy said was a "step backward for many hard working Kentuckians who have seen their wages remain flat despite a growing economy."

In his executive order, Bevin echoed other conservative arguments against the minimum wage, writing: "The minimum wage stifles job creation and disproportionately impacts lower skilled workers seeking entry-level jobs...Wage rates ideally would be established by the demands of the labor market instead of being set by the government."

In addition to these measures, Bevin also placed a freeze on hiring for all unoccupied state government positions and abolished a system that extended some collectively bargaining power to state employees.

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