After positioning pro-life bills for floor votes, don't expect the same on right-to-work legislation from House GOP

02/06/2016 08:55 PM

Republicans in the state’s House of Representatives have maneuvered one priority bill on pre-abortion informed consent toward a compromise resolution, and they look to be moving another aimed at limiting funding to Planned Parenthood closer to a floor vote this week.

But one issue that’s been at the center of many GOP political campaigns and one of the Republican-led Senate’s top pieces of legislation likely won’t get the same treatment, according to House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover.

Hoover said Friday that he would make no floor motions to force a vote on right-to-work legislation, which would prevent labor unions from collecting fees from non-members in businesses with collective bargaining agreements.

He estimated that eight to 12 members of the Republican caucus do not support the concept, noting that votes on the subject have not been counted.

“Most of our caucus does not believe that right to work or prevailing wage are bills what we want to move forward on at this time, and we understand the makeup in the House,” said Hoover, R-Jamestown.

“We also know that several members of our caucus actually are opposed to the majority of what our caucus believe on that bill, and those types of bills, you want to have a comfortable majority, and it’s just not something really that’s on the top of our priority list right now.”

Democrats have a 50-46 majority in the chamber, and this week they flexed their legislative muscle, voting down a bill in committee that would repeal the state’s prevailing wage requirements on public school projects before a gleeful labor audience in Thursday’s House Labor and Industry Committee meeting.

Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan, speaking to Pure Politics about U.S. District Judge David Hale’s ruling against Hardin County’s right-to-work ordinance, predicted a similar fate for right-to-work legislation.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said a right-to-work bill wouldn’t have “a snowball’s chance” of passing the chamber, and that was before Hoover told reporters he wouldn’t press the issue this year.

“I think the Republicans are playing politics with some very serious issues, and I think that is extraordinarily dangerous,” said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg.

Hoover’s announcement comes on the heels of a Hale’s ruling, which is being appealed.

Americans for Prosperity Kentucky, a conservative 501(c )(4) political advocacy group, has contributed $50,00 to a legal defense fund created for the 12 Kentucky counties that have passed right-to-work legislation.

The group has also been involved politically in last year’s gubernatorial election and in recent legislative races, and making Kentucky the 26th right-to-work state in the U.S. is one of their top policy priorities.

Julia Crigler, state director for AFP Kentucky, said she understands the politics behind Hoover’s decision, but she would like to see where lawmakers really stand on the issue. She said her group plans to be active in four special elections March 8 that could tilt the House into an unprecedented 50-50 split.

“I’m under no illusion myself that there’s currently a policy majority on right to work in the state House,” she told Pure Politics.

“However, I think the people of Kentucky deserve to know where their legislator stands on right to work. We plan on spending the next year creating a statewide voter mandate on this issue and building that policy majority.”

Right to work is one of the Senate’s top legislative priorities, with Senate President Robert Stivers the sponsor of such legislation in Senate Bill 3.

Before Hoover’s comments to reporters Friday, Senate President Pro Tem David Givens, R-Greensburg, said he hopes to see the issue become law sooner rather than later, paraphrasing Sen. Wil Schroder’s comments once his prevailing wage bill was voted down on Thursday.

“His statement leaving that committee was that the bill will be back, he will be back, but a lot of those House Democrats won’t be back, and I think that’s a bold and very appropriate statement,” Givens said.


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