FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky House approved a bill Wednesday that would exempt direct sellers from certain Kentucky employment laws. Direct sellers are people who buy products from a manufacturer and then sell them directly to other people.
There’s a variety of ways someone can be a direct seller, but it usually means someone selling something outside of a typical retail store. House Bill 186 would remove them from laws regarding wages, worker’s compensation and unemployment.
Supporters of the bill, like Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, say it gives companies and employees more freedom to work small jobs.
“I view this bill as an issue of freedom, but every time we have one of these bills come up, we have a lot of people who want to attack businesses as being evil and mean and that’s just not the case,” Lee said.
Lawmakers estimate around 170,000 people qualify as direct sellers and most of them are women. Opponents of the bill, including state Rep. McKenzie Cantrell, D-Louisville, say the bill will strip away rights from all of them.
“These companies really do not want to accept the responsibility for when something bad happens, and I’m here to say we shouldn’t go along with this, ” Cantrell said. “I think workers deserve the minimum wage. I think workers deserve to be safe and to be compensated for their injuries, and when they lose their job, they need their safety net programs that will help them while they look for another job.”
The bill passed by a 59-33 vote and moves to the Senate for consideration.
Other bills the House passed Wednesday:
- House Bill 29 would extend temporary permits for long-term care administrators from six months to nine months.
- House Bill 27 would designate sheltered cats and dogs as the official state pet of Kentucky.
- House Bill 167 gives foster parents more of a say in court proceedings when the court decides to terminate the parental rights of the original parents.