News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Indiana Legislature

November 20, 2011

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Indiana General Assembly ready to unleash 1,000-pound gorilla

INDIANAPOLIS — In just a few short weeks, the Indiana General Assembly kicks off what’s known as the “short session’’ — a fast romp of lawmaking that begins just after the New Year and ends, with a bang or a whimper, by the Ides of March.

You’d think after last session’s wild ride of contentious bills, boycotting members and rolling waves of protests that rocked the Statehouse, legislators wouldn’t be too keen on a sequel session of the Fight Club.

But as Senate President Pro Tem David Long told an audience in his home city of Fort Wayne last week, there’s a 1,000-pound gorilla about to be unleashed.

It goes by the name of “right to work” — a clever moniker that masks how messy the issue is.

The loaded label is shorthand for legislation that would ban agreements between unions and employers that require workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of their employment. Labor leaders say it’s a union-killer in disguise.

It’s that piece of legislation, more than any other, that sent House Democrats packing about midway through the 2011 session. Its GOP backers pulled the bill back, but the union protesters who flooded the Statehouse with a noisy presence during the Dems’ five-week sojourn knew it would come rampaging back in 2012.

The verbal fisticuffs have already started: A between-sessions study committee tilted in the GOP’s favor voted 5-4 on partisan lines last month to push the legislature to pick the bill back up again. Bill backers argued that transforming Indiana into a “right to work” state would boost the state’s sex appeal to CEOs and site selectors on the prowl for a place to launch or expand a business.

Whether that argument has sticking power remains to be seen. Indiana’s Republican governor hasn’t taken it up. Instead, Gov. Mitch Daniels has been traveling the state with a PowerPoint presentation that shows Indiana already ranks near the top in various lists of business-friendly states, including those compiled by Site Selection and Chief Executive magazines.

Republicans dominate both chambers of the Statehouse, which makes it a lot easier for the them to get what they want. But backing the bill is not without peril going into the 2012 election year. Supporters risk the wrath of union members, many of whom helped put some Republicans into the Statehouse in the first place. Bill opponents set themselves up to be called job-killers by pro-business interests.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of speculation about whether House Democrats will step out again when the bill bubbles back up. They may be emboldened by what happened in Ohio in early November when voters there repealed a new law that curbed the collective bargaining rights of unions. Organized labor reportedly spent $24 million turning out the vote.

A hint of what’s to come in Indiana may come as soon as Tuesday (Nov. 22) when legislators meet for their largely ceremonial Organization Day. It’s also been declared “All Workers Lobby Day” by the Indiana State AFL-CIO, whose leaders are urging its members to turn out in force for the next round of the “right to work” fight.

Maureen Hayden is Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI Indiana newspapers. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Indiana Legislature
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve 3 People Killed, Deputies Wounded in NC Shootout Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: 16 Killed in Gaza Market Strike 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit Raw: Smoke, Explosions Fill Gaza Skyline Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity