By Adam Beam and Bruce Schreiner - Associated Press - Saturday, January 7, 2017
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Kentucky used their new majority in the state Legislature to pass bills targeting labor unions and abortion on Saturday over the shouts of hundreds of protesters that packed the cavernous Capitol.
With chants of “we will remember in November” seeping through the closed doors of the state Senate, lawmakers gave final passage to a bill saying employers cannot force workers to pay dues to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining. They also repealed a law guaranteeing higher wages for construction workers on publicly financed projects. And they voted to require a woman seeking an abortion to first undergo an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat.
All the measures were sent to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.
In the House, lawmakers took final action to ban labor unions from using dues or fees to make political donations. They agreed to open up lawmaker retirement benefits to open records requests.
They were set to debate a bill Saturday afternoon that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy with no exception for rape or incest. They also plan to approve a bill to abolish and replace the board of trustees at the University of Louisville, a move Republicans say will rescue it from probation but Democrats warn was reckless and placed the value of student degrees at risk.
While lawmakers historically have used the first week of the legislative session to organize themselves before taking a monthlong recess, Republicans used their new supermajorities in both chambers to push through decades’ worth of proposals that had been stalled by the Democratic majority in the House. They called a rare Saturday session to send the bills to Mr. Bevin, who has pledged to sign them. All of the bills contain an emergency clause, meaning they take effect immediately.