Kentucky Democrats announce plans to pre-file 13 labor related bills

09/10/2018 07:01 PM

Louisville – Kentucky Democrats took the Labor Day weekend to announce 13 bills they think will help workers in Kentucky.

Shively Representative Joni Jenkins these 13 bills will help protect workers, physically and financially. Jenkins said, “In recent years, with a new majority in the house, we’ve seen a lot of bills that have been passed, pretty quickly, that really hurt our working folks here in Kentucky, so We wanted to be very clear about where we stand on those issues.”
In Kentucky’s House of Represenatives there are 63 Republicans and just 37 Democrats, but that hasn’t stopped the Democratic Caucus from addressing controversial issues. Included on their list to be pre-filed, a bill calling for a $15 minimum wage to be phased in by the early 2020s. Another bill plans to call for more job protections for people on maternity leave. They also plan to file a bill calling on companies to provide paid sick leave. Jenkins says that just makes sense. “We’ve seen in other states that have passed this that it really does help boast the company and the individual. And, if I’m in a restaurant and my server’s got the flu, I really don’t want them coming to work because they want that paycheck and coughing on my food. And I think we all feel the same way, that when people are sick, they need to stay at home and get better,” the Democratic lawmaker explained. Other bills the caucus plans to prefile include changing laws and decisions made by Republicans in previous sessions. One bill to be pre-filed relates to House Bill 2, a bill from the last session about worker’s compensation. Under HB2, most people with permanent partial disabilities from workplaces have to pay their own medical costs after 15 years. HB2 also cut back on the types of doctors who can diagnose black lung. Black lung is caused by long term exposure to coal dust. Jenkins says workers are being hurt by the current provisions, explaining “There are a lot of jobs that are just a little bit dangerous. Our police officers, our firefighters, our folks that do manual labor. And I think we should honor those people and I think we should respect the jobs they do, and if they get hurt on the job, we need to make sure that they have the services surrounding them to get better and come back to work. It doesn’t make sense for me that we’re not going to respect the very jobs that we talk about so much- our police and fire fighters and how great our first responders are, but then if they get hurt we’re not willing to help them take the time and get the medical care they need to get back on the job.” The Democratic Caucus also hopes to reestablish the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board which was eliminated by Governor Bevin over the summer. Nationwide, two factions of the Democratic Party appear to be emerging. There is one going more traditional and supporting workers, the second is speaking out on social issues. Jenkins says these bills show the priorities of the Democratic Caucus in Kentucky. She said, “I’ve been in the legislature a long time and you know caucuses represent very diverse communities, so there’s always going to be differences, but I do think the Democratic Caucus in the House and the Senate at this point say, you know what, we’re going to stand up for working folks.”
The Republican Caucus was asked to comment on these pre-filed bills but declined to do so.

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