Senator visits local Briggs and Stratton

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Photo by Kory Savage.

Murray’s Briggs and Stratton engine company received a rare visitor Wednesday when U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell stopped to talk business.

McConnell, the Senate minority leader, visited Briggs and Stratton to talk with the plant management team. Rodney Bohannon, plant manager, said the visit had been planned for a month.

Bohannon said the Senator’s visit was a low key discussion about what McConnell could do for Briggs and Stratton.

“If the Republicans take the Senate, he’ll be majority leader and he can set the agenda,” Bohannon said.

McConnell, not on the campaign trail, did not have press in the meeting.

He did answer a few questions about the election and the Ebola crisis on his way into Briggs and Stratton.

McConnell said the single biggest issue in the upcoming election is the war on coal.

“We lost 7,000 coal mining jobs during the Obama years,” he said. “It’s going to create a problem everywhere because 90 percent of electricity comes from coal-powered generation.”

He added that low utility rates have been key in the economic development of Kentucky, and stopping the war on coal is the single most important goal of the next few years.

When asked about the Ebola crisis, McConnell said it makes sense to him to discontinue flights from “that part of the world.”

McConnell said he hasn’t talked to the White House about discontinuing flights.

The senator was also asked about raising minimum wage, and he said he doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

McConnell said half the people that work minimum wage jobs are young people, and raising that wage could cost them their jobs.

“So while I’m sure it seems like the popular thing to do, it strikes me that in the jobless Obama recovery, the last thing we want to do is knock out more jobs for young people,” he said.

McConnell said it’s estimated that between 500,000 and one million jobs would be lost nationally if minimum wage increased.

That includes 17,000 jobs lost in Kentucky.

Story by Kate Russell, Staff writer