Parental Rights, Prevailing Wages, and Bridge Tolls

by Renee Shaw | 03/07/14 3:07 PM

One-third of rape victims give birth to babies conceived from the sexual assault. A bipartisan effort is underway to make sure those mothers don't have to fear their attackers could be granted rights to visit or have custody of the child conceived from the criminal act.

Two measures to address the issue are before the General Assembly. The House passed House Bill 62 earlier today, 92-0. On Thursday Senate Bill 108 passed out of the Senate Judiciary committee on its way to the full chamber. Both measures terminate the parental or visitation rights of rapists.

Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, sponsor of SB 108, said her legislation will help women who keep a child conceived from rape from being re-victimized. She recalled the shocking news story that inspired her bill and similar legislation across the country.

Holding the Line on Prevailing Wage
A bill to exclude all educational buildings and facilities from Kentucky’s prevailing wage laws was rejected by a legislative panel yesterday. Current law requires governments in the Commonwealth to pay union scale wages on construction projects.

The House GOP lawmakers backing House Bill 419 were no-shows in Thursday's hearing. With no supporters to testify in favor of the measure, House Labor and Industry Committee Chairman Rep. Rick Nelson (D- Middlesboro) proceeded with comments from a University of Utah professor who contends that exceptions to the wage laws hurt workers and the overall economy. Economist Peter Philips has spent 25 years studying the construction and labor market including prevailing wage regulations.

Phillips said repealing prevailing wage laws would result in lower wages. He claimed workers would be unable to afford the products they make, which would lead to a staggering impact on the overall economy.

Rep. Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger), a vice chair of the House Labor and Industry Committee, and a sponsor of the bill, cited a private street repair project in his district that ended up costing residents 13 percent more because of a prevailing wage laws. He sees the repeal proposed in HB 419 as a way to save and even create more jobs in the Commonwealth.

House Bill 419 was defeated with 14 votes against, one in favor, and two abstentions.

P3 Legislation Could Build a Bridge
Supporters of House Bill 407 say public-private partnerships can help local government officials pay for critical infrastructure and economic development projects. Thirty-four states already have some from of what's called P3 legislation.

But yesterday's debate about HB 407 centered on how the measure might be used as a vehicle to levy tolls to fund a northern Kentucky bridge project. Rep. Arnold Simpson (D-Covington) was unsuccessful in attaching an amendment to the bill to prevent it from being used as funding mechanism to refurbish the Brent Spence Bridge across the Ohio River to Cincinnati. Simpson queried Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock on the matter.

The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee passed HB 407 and the measure now awaits placement on the full House docket.

Tune into Legislative Update weeknights at 11 p.m. on KET. Follow me on Twitter @ReneeKET for updates.