Legislation that would give the Amish an immediate exemption from having to attach brightly colored slow-moving-vehicle triangles to their buggies still hasn’t been signed into law.
Members of the more conservative Amish sect of Swartzentruber object to the emblems on religious grounds, saying the triangular shape represents the Trinity, which they are not allowed to display, and because the fluorescent orange color calls undue attention to them.
Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said the governor still is reviewing the measure, Senate Bill 75, which passed the legislature on March 27.
The high-profile issue weighs religious rights against traffic safety. The legislation would allow the Amish to use silver or gray reflector tape on their horse-drawn buggies, instead of the signs.
The House of Representatives passed the bill 75-21, and the Senate passed it unanimously.
Several Amish farmers had served jail time in Kentucky for refusing to use the orange triangles.
In Amish communities around the country, fatal collisions have occurred between Amish buggies and automobiles. The most recent one in Kentucky involved an SUV that crashed into the back of a buggy in Cub Run last November, killing the 18-year-old buggy driver. Several months earlier, a tractor-trailer ran into one near Hopkinsville, killing an Amish child and injuring three others.
Rep. Fred Nessler, D-Mayfield, has been the most outspoken among rural lawmakers who oppose the measure for safety reasons. He has said the silver tape that many Amish already use on their buggies is highly visible at night when reflecting car lights, but is not as easy to see as the orange triangles during the day.
Sen. Ken Winters, R-Murray, said he considered final passage a victory for religious freedom.
An eclectic coalition of religious and political groups supported the measure.