Legislative Update: Minimum wage bill and casino bills face uncertain futures

02/05/2014 07:06 PM

An amendment placed on the state House bill to raise Kentucky’s minimum wage to $10.10 might be the final straw for that bill.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Democrats were concerned about the amendment, placed by Republican Rep. Jim DeCesare of Rockfield, that would repeal the prevailing wage requirement on construction of school buildings.

DeCesare has long advocated for repealing prevailing wage, which requires construction workers on public projects to be paid a certain rate calculated by a board that bases the formula on regional averages.

House Democrats met behind closed doors in a caucus meeting Wednesday evening to discuss how to proceed with the minimum wage legislation, which is House Bill 1. It would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. Before that caucus meeting, Stumbo said he wasn’t sure about the measure’s fate:

DeCesare said his amendment to the bill would save local school districts $100 million in construction costs. But he conceded the practical effect of the amendment would be that it would “hurt the bill.”

As for measures to allow casino gambling in Kentucky, the House and Senate seem to be in a sort of standoff about which chamber — or either — would move first on a constitutional amendment to allow it.

Both Democratic Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark of Louisville and Republican Senate Caucus Chairman Dan Seum of Louisville have introduced separate constitutional amendments that must be approved by three-fifths of each chamber and then put on the ballot for voters’ ratification.

It’s that last step that could have political implications, considering all 100 House Districts, 19 state Senate districts and the U.S. Senate race is on the ballot.

But Stumbo told reporters he didn’t believe having a constitutional amendment to allow casinos would energize conservative voters to come out to the polls to oppose it any more than it would encourage Democrats in urban areas to come out and support casinos.

Watch how Stumbo answers questions about that and whether it would affect the U.S. Senate race:


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