Following the legislative early session on January 7th, Governor Bevin signed seven new bills into law. Three of the bills will provide economic growth and increased job opportunities for Kentuckians by better positioning the state to become the manufacturing and engineering hub of excellence in the United States.
House Bill 1 grants right-to-work protections to all of Kentucky's workers. Contrary to claims by the bill's opponents that this measure was somehow "against the worker," studies show right-to-work laws spur economic growth. Tennessee, a right-to-work state, currently creates 20,000 more jobs per year than Kentucky. One third of Fortune 500 companies will not relocate or expand to a state that is not right-to-work. In some cases, Kentucky union workers were going to Indiana and Michigan to find jobs, both of which are right-to-work states where job growth is expanding for both union and non-union workers.
"I applaud this historic action by the General Assembly. It will be transformative in the way Kentucky competes economically and, as Kentucky begins to attract and retain more business, our workforce could see explosive growth," Governor Bevin said. Likewise, Senate Bill 6, known as the "paycheck protection bill," gives Kentucky workers the choice of whether they want union dues deducted from their paychecks, giving them the ability to associate freely and do what they wish with their hard-earned dollars.
One other bill, House Bill 3, repeals Kentucky's prevailing wage law. The original law required construction workers on certain public projects be paid a "prevailing wage." The law made determination of what the wage should be difficult and cumbersome. It also prevented the state of Kentucky from awarding construction projects to the lowest bidder, thus driving costs to the taxpayer upward. One policy paper estimated the prevailing wage law cost Kentucky taxpayers approximately $136.8 million annually.
These pieces of legislation will allow Kentucky to make great strides toward becoming the best version of itself. Though some critics claim that being a right-to-work state depresses wages, studies conducted in other right-to-work states demonstrate that the opposite is true. As the economy expands, demand for skilled labor rises, leading employers to compete for workers. This competition results in increased wages.