FRANKFORT — A new majority in the state House of Representatives presents an opportunity for success for pro-business legislation that has failed to win passage in the General Assembly despite broad support, according to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson delivered that message during recent meetings with more than a dozen local chambers of commerce, where he outlined the Kentucky business community’s goals for the 2017 legislative session. Adkisson discussed the Chamber’s 2017 Legislative Agenda, which places special emphasis on the need for pro-growth and job-creating legislation.
“The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is hopeful that under the leadership of Representative Jeff Hoover and his colleagues, Kentucky will finally be able to benefit from some commonsense policies that focus on economic growth,” he said.
According to Adkisson, the business community is focused on four top legislative priorities that will make Kentucky competitive with surrounding states: enacting right-to-work, repealing the prevailing wage, allowing charter schools, and reforming Kentucky’s legal system.
Right to Work
“It’s time to make Kentucky a right-to work state and allow employees to make a personal decision on whether to pay dues to a union,” said Adkisson. “States with right-to-work laws report faster per capita income growth, faster growth in manufacturing and non-agricultural jobs, greater capital expenditures, lower unemployment and fewer work stoppages.”
The Kentucky Chamber has lobbied for right to work legislation for more than 30 years, citing that the absence of right-to-work legislation has resulted in the Commonwealth ceding competitive ground to other states.
“Kentucky is the only southern state not to have enacted right-to-work legislation. With new right-to-work laws in Indiana, Michigan and West Virginia, our state stands out as a conspicuous outlier in this much-needed area of reform,” Adkisson said.
A 2014 study by the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission determined that the prevailing wage law inflated labor costs by 24 percent on average and increased total project costs by an average of 10 to 16 percent.
“Added spending on public works projects by Kentucky taxpayers means fewer public works projects are built or existing projects, such as schools, are scaled back,” Adkisson said. “Spending on higher cost public works projects means less money to shore up Kentucky’s ailing pension system and less money for education and economic development programs.”
Kentucky is one of only seven states that do not allow charter schools, which the Chamber has long advocated.
“Charter schools are helping other states close achievements gaps, empower parents, and discover innovative ways to help students and teachers succeed in the classroom,” said Adkisson.
During the 2017 Kentucky General Assembly, the Chamber will be joining with a broad coalition pushing for legal reform.
“The increasing cost of civil litigation, whether through legal fees, higher liability insurance premiums, defensive business practices or simply reduced investment opportunities, is a significant burden for Kentucky’s employers,” Adkisson said. “These costs are hurting businesses, their employees, and consumers as they are passed on in the form of higher prices and fewer choices.”
The Kentucky Chamber has long advocated for the establishment of commonsense legal liability reform and is hopeful that the new House will lead to a balanced, efficient and fair legal system.
“Now that the election is over it’s time to roll up our sleeves, put politics aside, focus on economic opportunities and get to work making Kentucky the most business-friendly state in the nation,” he said.