FRANKFORT— During the second week of the 2016 General Assembly, state legislators settled into the familiar rhythm for a session.
Bills began to be introduced, debated in committees and brought to the Senate floor for a vote. It is the institution’s customary way to bring order out of a chaotic-appearing democratic process that has worked for a century and a half.
Several bills made it through that time-honored process and now go to the state House of Representatives for further consideration.
This week I took a vote for all the men and women who carry a lunchbox to work every day. I represent some of the most skilled, qualified workers in the world therefore, I opposed a measure that would repeal the prevailing wage law in Kentucky. Senate Bill 9 exempts public schools from requiring contractors from paying them a specified minimum wage rate for work on certain projects.
Data shows that wages and benefits for workers are driven down when you do away with prevailing wage and I do not believe the government should be in the business of driving down wages.
This proposal would impact 75,000 Kentucky workers. Data shows that construction workers make 22 to 25 percent less on average in states that have repealed prevailing wage laws. The bottom line is if we repeal the prevailing wage on public construction projects in Kentucky we cut the wages of every man and woman who works in the construction industry throughout this state.
Prevailing wage simply promotes paying decent wages to workers on government contracts. Prevailing wage laws encourage a skilled workforce that does quality work.
As an avid defender of our second amendment rights, I was honored to host the first Kentucky Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. I am happy to co-chair a bi-partisan caucus that comes together to support the interests of Kentucky’s hunters and anglers.
During each session, groups advocating for children, seniors and our other most vulnerable citizens come to Frankfort to make their voices heard and lobby for or against legislation. That was the case this week. Thursday was declared Children’s Advocacy Day. This day was established in 2004 as an effort to raise the profile of children’s issues among Kentucky’s elected leaders. Giving a voice to young people serves as a powerful vehicle reminding us all that Kentucky’s children are the key to a sustained and prosperous future for the Commonwealth. I enjoyed meeting and talking with the young people when they stopped by my office.
I was also pleased to have constituents in Frankfort this week:
· Boyd and Greenup County 911 representatives visited the Capitol to discuss funding and technology for our 911 first responders.
· Jack Cline with Vocational Rehab stopped by to provide me with information on the benefits of their work for our region.
· Lillie Burton, Jean and Justin visited on Children’s Advocacy Day to discuss substance abuse and family programs.
· Representatives from Necco, a group that serves at-risk youth of all ages and families who face an array of challenges, talked with me about needs of families and our youth. Visiting were Sean Preston, Chris Conley, foster family Lawhun from Lewis County, and Rita Pancohe, who has served children by providing a wonderful home and good parenting for many years.
It is always good to see constituents at the Capitol advocating for their work and discussing their needs.
The legislature will gavel back in session on Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Our most important task of the 60-day session still lies ahead – passing a new $20-$21 billion budget to carry Kentucky through the next two years. First, Gov. Matt Bevin will present his budget recommendations during a combined State of the Commonwealth and Budget Address on Jan. 26.
The recommendations are converted to legislation and are first introduced in the House in the form of a spending plan for the state. When the budget bills are passed by a majority of the members of the House, they are sent to the Senate where they follow the same procedures.
Typically, the budget bills passed by each chamber are different. The differences must be worked out in a conference committee of senators and representatives. Compromises agreed to by conference committee members are then subject once again to approval by a majority of both members of each chamber – all before the last day of the session on April 12.
Please stay up-to-date on the budget negotiations, and legislative action of interest to you, throughout the session by logging onto the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) website at www.lrc.ky.gov or by calling the LRC toll-free bill status line at 866-840-2835. For committee meeting schedules, please call the LRC toll-free meeting information line at 800-633-9650. To comment on a bill, please call the toll-free legislative message line at 800-372-7181.
Citizens can write to any legislator by sending a letter with a lawmaker’s name on it to: Legislative Offices, 702 Capitol Ave., Frankfort, KY 40601. You can also e-mail at email@example.com.