News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 3, 2012

Indiana House Speaker plans fast start for labor bill


The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s Republican House leader said today that lawmakers will almost immediately take up labor legislation that’s likely to dominate much of the state’s 2012 session after it spurred a Democratic walkout last year.

House Speaker Brian Bosma told The Associated Press that the first hearing on the state’s “right-to-work” bill will be Friday. The joint hearing of the House and Senate labor committees is just two days after lawmakers return to Indianapolis for a brief 10-week session.

The proposal would ban businesses and private unions from signing contracts that mandate all workers pay union dues. Supporters say the law would help attract new business to the state. Opponents call it an attempt to weaken organized labor.

Indiana’s House Democrats successfully blocked the measure last year with a five-week walkout that denied House Republicans the numbers needed to conduct daily business. Democratic leaders have so far declined to say whether they’ll walk out again this session.

Bosma has been the measure’s most ardent supporter and said he’s confident Indiana will this year become the 23rd state to enact right-to-work legislation, and the first to do so since Oklahoma in 2001. More than a dozen other states considered such legislation after a round of Republican Statehouse wins in 2010, but have not managed to adopt the measure

New Hampshire lawmakers came closest last year passing a bill but being unable to find the votes needed to overturn a veto from Democratic Gov. John Lynch.

Republicans hold wide margins in the Indiana Legislature: 60-40 in the House and 37-13 in the Senate and GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels has come out with strong support for the measure.