On day two of the 2017 session, right-to-work bills passed through committees and move to the next step of the legislative process.
Early Wednesday, members of the state House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee heard testimony from Governor Bevin, House Speaker Jeff Hoover, Kentucky Chamber President Dave Adkisson and others on the reasons right to work legislation is important to the state of Kentucky.
Right to work legislation, given the symbolic top priority designation of House Bill 1, is expected to move quickly through the legislature this session under the new Republican-controlled House.
Kicking off the committee meeting Wednesday, Gov. Matt Bevin pointed to right-to-work states that have faster job growth and union membership as more companies come to those states and added that the legislation is about freedom for workers.
Bevin said that while he believes the state needs unions in order to become the manufacturing hub of the country he envisions, employees deserve the choice when it comes to union membership.
In his testimony, Adkisson noted the Chamber’s strong support for right-to-work legislation and drew from his economic development experience, explaining that during his time as mayor of Owensboro and his tenure as the head of the Birmingham, Alabama Chamber he saw many prospects turn away from Kentucky because of the lack of a right-to-work law.
“Right-to-work will put a sign on the front door of Kentucky, showing we are ‘open for business,’” Adkisson said.
Speaker Hoover stated that the primary goal of the legislation is to focus on economic development and that the bill is essential to growth as Kentucky is currently a “closed shop.”
After some debate, the House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee passed the measure with a 17-8 vote.
Another right-to-work bill, Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, which requires workers to “opt in” to having union dues withheld from their paychecks rather than the current practice that holds a worker must act to opt out of having an employer withhold their dues, passed out of the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee on Wednesday as well. This bill is often referred to as “paycheck protection.”