Right-to-work, prevailing wage repeal among Greater Louisville I - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Right-to-work, prevailing wage repeal among Greater Louisville Inc.'s 2017 legislative agenda

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Greater Louisville Inc., the Louisville-area chamber of commerce, presented a state policy agenda for the coming year on Friday that supports right-to-work legislation, allowing charter schools in Kentucky and sweeping tax reform.

Speaking at the Olmsted in Louisville, chamber Chief Operating Officer Sarah Davasher-Wisdom laid out an array of issues that have GLI’s support, from making it harder for people to delay building projects through court appeals to protecting small businesses from “overly burdensome regulations.”

Several of the chamber’s top goals are those likely to be pushed by Kentucky’s GOP-controlled state legislature, including the Republican supermajority in the state House of Representatives starting next month.

READ GLI’S 2017 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Among them is the repeal of prevailing wage. Such laws require that, on public projects costing at least $250,000, companies pay hourly wages, overtime and other benefits in line with the majority of workers, laborers, and mechanics in a county or area.

“We’ve seen success in surrounding states that benefit from competition among contractors,” Davasher-Wisdom said. “They benefit from lower prices. GLI remains committed to this longstanding goal that will provide a better climate for economic growth and infrastructure development.”

GLI describes a right-to-work bill as a “very important step” for the state to attract businesses. If passed, such legislation would let workers choose not to join unions or pay membership dues.

Republican strategist Scott Jennings said during a panel discussion at the Olmsted that it’s likely a right-to-work bill will be passed during the upcoming legislative session; Matt Erwin, a former communications director for the Kentucky Democratic Party, agreed.

Right-to-work advocates say such laws eliminate costly barriers that may keep companies from moving to their areas. But Erwin said workers stand to lose the most if Kentucky becomes a right-to-work state.

“Right-to-work is going to put downward pressure on wages and frankly that’s the point—the point is to depress wages, so a lot of people in this room are for it and … they’re going to get it,” he said.

GLI also supports:

-Promoting local control of revenue, such as the Local Option Sales Tax backed by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

-Expanded gambling in Kentucky

-Establishing a tax credit for school-choice scholarships

-Increasing the cigarette tax

-Give cyclists and pedestrians access to the K & I Bridge between Portland and New Albany, Ind.  

The chamber also is against wine sales in grocery stores, casting its opposition as support for the state’s bourbon industry. (Executives with bourbon producers Brown-Forman Corp. and Maker's Mark sit on GLI’s executive committee; Heaven Hill is represented on its board of directors.)

GLI has spent $26,457 lobbying the Kentucky General Assembly this year. The 30-day, 2017 session begins January 3.

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