Right-to-work legislation is not likely to pass in the House, according to Kentucky State Rep. Gerald Watkins.
Watkins, a Democrat, noted Friday that despite the passage of the Kentucky Right to Work Act on Thursday in the state’s Republican controlled Senate, he is highly skeptical the bill will pass the Democrat controlled House. The bill would prevent union membership as a condition of employment.
“Right to Work is not going to pass the House. What the Senate did is just symbolic and it will be rather quickly dispensed with as far as committees” Watkins told Murray State’s NPR. “Maybe it might come up for a vote but it won’t pass labor and industry.”
Additionally, Watkins says the bill will not benefit the state economically.
“I don’t think it’s a silver-bullet for economic revival in Kentucky, there are other things to look at and I think we’re doing very well as far as attracting new businesses and promoting businesses start up in Kentucky.”
Watkins noted earlier attempts to pass right-to-work legislation as an example of how unpopular the idea is, including legislation proposed by Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher in 2006.
“Four different Republicans voted against it in the House, so he wasn’t successful after all that effort and occupying the governor’s office and all the power it afforded him” Watkins said. “Now here we are again. But now the Democrats control the House and we don’t see that as a winning issue.”
State Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, a Republican, defended the bill. Thayer argued that it wasn’t the state’s role to create jobs, but rather create an environment that allows the private sector to do so.
“It is the job of government to create an environment where jobs can flourish, where we have current employers wanting to stay in Kentucky and expand their operations and, of course, to attract employers from other states and countries to come here to Kentucky,” Thayer told The River City News. “There is no question in my mind that the passage of SB 1 is the absolute best step this General Assembly and governor can take to create a better environment for the creation and retention of jobs here in the commonwealth.”
Right-to-work legislation has become more popular on the local level throughout the state. Local advocates, along with the group My Check My Choice, have been able to pass right-to-work ordinances in three counties, with Warren County becoming the first right-to-work county in the entire country earlier in December.
My Check My Choice expects many more counties to adopt similar legislation. Sen. Rand Paul and state House Republican Floor Leader, Jeff Hoover have both supported the local initiative.
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