Politics & Government

Kentucky Senate puts right-to-work bill on fast track; House expected to balk

FRANKFORT — A state Senate committee on Wednesday put on the fast track a bill that would allow people to work for unionized employers without joining the union, but the measure is expected to die in the House.

On a partisan 7-3 vote with Republicans in the majority, the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee approved Senate Bill 1, which would allow workers to receive union-negotiated benefits without paying union dues.

Labor leaders contend the bill is designed to bust unions, but business leaders say the legislation would help Kentucky create more jobs.

The Republican-led Senate is expected to vote Thursday on SB 1 and send it to the Democratic-controlled House for its consideration.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the bill's chances in the House were "slim and none."

The bill is sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester. He told the Senate committee the legislation was one of the Senate's priorities during this year's legislative session, which began Tuesday.

He said it would create "a better environment" for businesses in the state.

Testifying for the bill were Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president Dave Adkisson and Hal Goode, president of the Kentucky Association for Economic Development. Speaking against it was Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO.

Twenty-four states have approved such legislation, which proponents call right-to-work laws.