Informed-consent bill takes a small step in House as Stumbo proposes raising minimum wage

01/20/2016 10:59 PM

FRANKFORT — House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover inched one of his caucus’s primary legislative priorities forward with a procedural move on Wednesday, the same day House Speaker Greg Stumbo introduced a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage.

Hoover moved that Senate Bill 4, legislation mandating that patients receive face-to-face consultations with physicians before an abortion, receive its first reading in the chamber and go back for committee assignment by the Committee on Committees. The Jamestown Republican noted that Stumbo told reporters on Tuesday, when the Senate passed SB 4 on a 32-5 vote, that members of the House Democratic caucus had expressed interest in the legislation.

The House voted 72-11 to give SB 4 its first reading. Bills need three readings before a floor vote, but informed-consent legislation hasn’t fared well in the House Health and Welfare Committee.

The panel’s chairman, Rep. Tom Burch, was among 11 Democrats who voted against the move. House Majority Caucus Chair Sannie Overly, D-Paris, was the only member of Democratic leadership to vote against Hoover’s motion.

Hoover called the vote “a small victory, but it’s a step in the right direction” for pro-life representatives in the House.

“I think we caught a lot of folks off guard, if you will, and they have indicated, some of them, that they’re pro-life,” Hoover said. “Again, what was interesting was the ones who chose not to vote who were here and wouldn’t take a stand and stand up for pro-life issues.”

Still, he conceded that the Health and Welfare Committee presented a “problematic” hurdle if SB 4 is assigned to that panel. He said he hoped that Democrats would consider assigning it to another committee for “a more fair hearing.”

“That’s what I’m hoping, and I hope Democrat leadership gets that message,” Hoover said.

Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, didn’t vote on the motion Wednesday. He told reporters Tuesday that he’s unsure how SB 4 would fare, but “there’s a lot of people who are violently opposed to it, and there are people who want to see us vote on it.”

“What I hear a lot of people say, and I wasn’t here when they passed the informed-consent bill,” Stumbo said Tuesday. “I was downstairs in the attorney general’s office, but the intent of the legislature, I hear a lot of people say that it was the intent to have a face-to-face meeting, and that seems to be getting some traction, at least in the Democratic caucus.”

Hoover’s small victory came as Stumbo filed one of the majority party’s top legislative and political issues in raising the state’s minimum wage.

House Bill 278 would increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by July 1, 2018, and raise the exemption limit from less than $95,000 in annual sales to less than $500,000 per year for retail stores, service industries, hotels and restaurants.

HB 278 also includes a piece aimed to prevent wage discrimination based on gender.

“It is way past time that we give a raise to those families who depend on the minimum wage,” Stumbo said in a statement.

“Beyond the budget, no other bill the General Assembly considers this year would do more for our economy and improve the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of families. We need to take this step now, because waiting another year would just put these families further behind.”

House won’t convene Friday

House Democratic leaders announced Wednesday that they would not meet on Friday with inclement weather in the forecast. The National Weather Service is predicting heavy snow and ice in parts of the state starting Thursday night.

Representatives will meet at noon on Thursday while the Senate is set to gavel in at 2 p.m.

“We’ll have plenty of time to make up on any lost work that we may have,” House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins said.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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