FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A bill that would allow a greater number of employees to be legally classified as independent contractors has passed the Kentucky Senate.
The bill would also shield primary contractors from liability for illegal activity conducted by the subcontractors they hire.
Sen. John Schickel, a Republican from Union, is the bill sponsor. He said the measure has the support of Kentucky's business sector and would be beneficial for them.
"It is a bill supported by businesses because what it does is it clarifies the rules about contractors," said Schickel. "In the past there has been a lot of confusion about the rules for the subcontractor."
Schickel also noted that a fiscal impact statement has not yet been prepared for the legislation.
Senate Democrats spoke at length against the measure. Among them Ray Jones from Pikeville.
He said the bill could arguably allow anyone employed by someone else to be considered a contractor. That could include "farmers, factory workers, even schoolteachers," he said.
"It undoes over 100 years of established jurisprudence in the Commonwealth of Kentucky."
All workers' compensation decisions regarding contractors and subcontractors would be handled by the Labor Cabinet under the bill. Jones also raised a concern that the Labor Cabinet would not be financially able to handle the additional caseload, given that there were no funds provided for it in Schickel's bill, and that another upcoming bill, expected to pass the Senate, would sharply reduce the group's funding.
After several unsuccessful attempts by Jones to remove the bill from the Senate orders, the measure passed out of the chamber Tuesday on a 24-14 vote. It now moves to the Kentucky House of Representatives for consideration.
The legislation is Senate Bill 81.