State Senate divided over right-to-work bill; Lawrence Senator calls bill ‘attempt to break up unions’…
By Brad Bowman
The State Journal
While the Senate stood united in passing a heroin bill to the House just four days into the session, contentious division arose among lawmakers on right-to-work legislation.
Senate President Robert Stivers said the heroin epidemic was not a Democrat or Republican issue, but a matter that needed to be tackled throughout the state.
The bill passed the Senate with 36 votes.
But the right-to-work bill, SB 1, seemed entirely a Democrat vs. Republican issue as all 12 Democratic senators voted against the measure.
While Republican Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, supported the legislation for the Right To Work Act as a job creator and an attraction for businesses to locate in the commonwealth,
Minority Floor Leader Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, called the act “an attempt to break up unions”.
The legislation would allow employees to work in unionized businesses without paying dues or be required to join one. The Republican majority set the bill as its first priority for the 2015 session.
“I’m not so naïve to think Senate Bill 1 will be so widely supported (as the heroin bill),” Stivers said. “It is something that will give this state the opportunity to be more competitive and for the creation of jobs. An individual where a collective bargaining has been struck can come in and work.”
Thayer argued the role of government was not to create jobs, but create a climate where businesses and the private sector could thrive to create them.
While deliberations lasted more than hour, former governor and Minority Whip Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, shared his thoughts on the matter while he voiced his no vote.
“If I wanted to spend several millions of dollars in creating my business to make me more money, one of the things I’d like to do is not have to deal with unions,” Carroll said.
“I’ve been in this business of representing the people of Kentucky a long time and I will say, politically, that if I were interested in achieving a political result — in getting political contributions from individuals who could afford to give them — I would be for this bill.
“And particularly, I’d start with an institute called the Bluegrass Institute down in Bowling Green who is funded with Republican money and I would put out the word that this is what Kentucky should do.”
The Right-to-Work Act and the Heroin Bill (Senate Bill 5) will go to the House of Representatives.