- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Latest on legislation moving through the Kentucky General Assembly (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

Construction workers hired for publicly financed projects would earn less money under a bill that has cleared the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives.

Lawmakers approved a bill Thursday that would repeal Kentucky’s prevailing wage law. The law required Kentucky officials to decide how much state and local governments paid construction workers for public projects based on a survey of wages in the community.

Supporters say the law ensures better workers and higher quality for public buildings, including schools. Opponents say the law unfairly inflates costs for construction projects paid for with taxpayer money.

The bill is one of several proposals the new Republican majority is pushing in the first week of the legislative session. The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled state Senate, where it could pass as early as Saturday.

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7:20 p.m.

The Kentucky Senate has passed legislation to reshape the University of Louisville’s board of trustees in an attempt to resolve the upheaval in the school’s governing board.

The proposal shepherded through the chamber on Thursday by Senate President Robert Stivers would disband the current board and create a new, smaller board appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin.

Bevin would choose from a pool of candidates submitted by the Council on Postsecondary Education.

Stivers says his proposal is aimed at ending the dysfunction overshadowing UofL’s governance.

Senate Democrats complained the bill was being rushed through without enough review. The proposal was tacked onto an unrelated bill by a committee and voted on a short time later in the full Senate.

Sen. Gerald Neal said there are no assurances the measure will resolve the problems that led to an accrediting agency’s putting the university on probation for a year.

The bill now goes to the Republican-led House.

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6 p.m.

The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed a bill that would make it illegal for workers to have to join a labor union or pay dues to keep a job.

The so-called “right-to-work” legislation was filed as HB 1, making it the top priority of the new Republican majority. The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it could pass as early as Saturday.

Republicans have tried for years to make Kentucky a right-to-work state, only to be thwarted by the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. But this year, Republicans have super majorities in both chambers, allowing them to pursue an aggressive agenda.

Opponents say the bill will weaken labor unions’ bargaining power and lead to lower wages for workers. Supporters say it will attract more jobs to Kentucky.

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4:40 p.m.

Labor unions would be barred from using union dues to make political contributions under a bill that has cleared the Kentucky Senate.

The bill would require labor unions to have a separate fund for political donations and would require them to make sure no dues or fees are used to contribute to candidates.

It cleared the Republican-led Senate on a 25-11 vote Thursday.

The bill would also ban companies from automatically withholding union dues from employee paychecks unless the employees give permission.

The bill is one of several proposals targeting labor unions that have sailed through the legislature in the first week of the session. The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where it could pass as early as Saturday

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4:30 p.m.

The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would create panels of medical providers to review the merits of lawsuits against doctors or health care institutions.

Republicans have long pushed for the legislation. The measure passed the GOP-led Senate on a 23-13 vote Thursday. It now goes to the House, where its prospects are considerably improved with Republicans now in control of the chamber.

The bill would create independent panels of medical experts to review medical malpractice claims. The panels would issue non-binding opinions within six months.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ralph Alvarado, says the process would not limit or deny plaintiffs’ access to the courts. A review panel’s medical opinion report would be admissible in court.

Sen. Perry Clark said the panels would “delay and hinder” the legal process.

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4:05 p.m.

Pregnant women seeking an abortion would first have to undergo an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat under a bill that has cleared the Kentucky House of Representatives.

The proposal is one of several anti-abortion bills that have previously passed the Republican-controlled Senate only to be blocked by the Democratic majority in the House. But this year, Republicans have super majorities in both chambers, plus a Republican governor.

The bill does not include exceptions for rape or incest. The proposal would not require the woman to watch the ultrasound, and says she can request to lower the volume of the heartbeat.

The bill now goes to the Republican-controlled state Senate, where it could pass as early as Saturday.

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3:55 p.m.

The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The measure sailed to passage on a 30-6 vote Thursday in the Republican-led chamber. It now goes to the House, where new Speaker Jeff Hoover has predicted it will win overwhelming support.

Supporters of the bill say the proposed 20-week ban in Kentucky is based on the assertion that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. Opponents characterize that as scientifically unsound.

Sen. Brandon Smith, the bill’s lead sponsor, says the legislation would make exceptions to the 20-week ban when the mother’s life is in danger.

Abortion opponents who had their legislation blocked for years gained the upper hand when Republicans won control of the House in last year’s elections.

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4:10 a.m.

Kentucky’s new Republican majority is poised to pass a host of legislation targeting labor unions, abortion and legislator’s public pensions.

Kentucky’s Republican-controlled House and Senate are scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon to take up legislation that has cleared legislative committees. They include bills that would ban mandatory labor union membership, repeal the state’s prevailing wage law, forbid abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and release more information about lawmakers’ pension benefits.

All of the proposals have previously passed the Republican-controlled Senate, only to be blocked by the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. But Republicans now have a super majority in both chambers, allowing them to pursue an aggressive agenda.

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