Priority House bills concerning right-to-life, repealing prevailing wage, and abortion are passed by the Senate

01/07/2017 03:28 PM

FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Senate has passed three House priority bills concerning right-to-work, repeal of prevailing wage for public works projects, and requiring an ultrasound before an abortion during a rare Saturday session of the General Assembly.

House Bill 1, known as the “right-to-work” bill, which would prohibit unions from collecting fees from workers who choose to be non-members, was passed by a 25-12 vote along party lines with the exception of Sen. C.B. Embry,R-Morgantown, who cast the lone GOP no vote.

Hundreds of union workers crowded the Capitol Rotunda for a vocal rally against HB1 and HB3, and their voices could be heard numerous times through the doors of the Senate chamber.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, says that making Kentucky a right-to-work state will lead to an increase of jobs in the commonwealth.

“The states that are leading the nation in job growth are right-to-work states,” Thayer said. “Union membership is increasing because jobs are increasing in those states.”

Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, voted against the legislation saying it allows workers who work in union shops but who choose not to be members of the union, to receive their representation without paying for it.

“It should really be called something like the free loader act,” Jones said. “People can take advantage of that collective bargaining unit, have them represent them in employment cases, but not have to pay their fair share.”

House Bill 3, which would repeal prevailing wage for public works construction projects, passed by a 25-12 vote with Embry once again being the lone GOP legislator to vote against the measure.

Sen. Steve West, R-Paris, who voted in favor of the bill, says that prevailing wage is an inflated wage that doesn’t take the free market into consideration.

“Prevailing wage is an artificially set wage by this government,” West said. “Whenever the government artificially sets wages or prices, the result is always higher prices, and less whatever product or service is being regulated.”

Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, was against the legislation because he feels that it will lower the wages of workers who are part of many important public highways and structures in the commonwealth.

“The premise that we’re going to allow the projects, the buildings, the roads, the bridges, the things that we use every day and we rely on the government to maintain and build, that we’re going to allow those to be built by completely undercutting the wages of the men and the women who build them,” McGarvey said.

House Bill 2, which would require pregnant women who are scheduling an abortion to get an ultrasound prior to the procedure, was passed by a 32-5 vote, with 5 Democrats, Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, Sen. Dorsey Ridley, D-Henderson, and Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, voting yes on the legislation.

Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, who voted against the bill, said that the state needs to do more to protect and take care of many of the children in the commonwealth who are unwanted by their parents and families.

“If you want to be pro-life and pro-child, then let’s be pro-life and pro-child in every sense of the word,” Thomas said. “If we’re going to bring unwanted children in, let’s make sure that they aren’t in poverty, let’s make sure we educate them, let’s make sure we provide a child welfare system that works. If you’re going to bring these unwanted children into the world, I want them to have the same kind of success and happiness that all of us in this hall enjoy.”

That statement brought about a response from Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, who voted yes on the bill, who believes that all babies in the womb should have the right to live.

“It sounds as if the Senator from Fayette believes that it’s better off if these children be torn apart limb for limb and pulled out the bodies of the mothers rather than be born,” Westerfield said. “We shouldn’t incentivize or encourage people to kill them.”

All three bills now go to the desk of Gov. Matt Bevin where it’s expected that they will be signed into law.


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