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State Legislative Tracker: Could right-to-work legislation pass in any states in 2013?

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December 17, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka
This week's tracker features a look at why the "right-to-work" movement is unlikely to pick up any additional states in 2013.

Weekly highlight

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Michigan officially became the nation's 24th right-to-work state last week, putting into place legislation that Gov. Rick Snyder (R) called "pro-worker and pro-Michigan."[1] The new law, which prohibits paying union dues as a condition of employment, was based on similar legislation passed in Indiana earlier this year.[2]

24 states currently have "right-to-work" laws

Battles over such legislation have been among the most contentious in recent years - President Barack Obama, who happened to be in Detroit when the legislation was being finalized in the state capital, stated, “These so called right-to-work laws, they don’t have anything to do with economics, they have to do with politics.”[3]

While right-to-work supporters have the momentum, it is unclear if they will see success anywhere else in the upcoming year. Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, certainly thinks so, saying he expects at least one more state to join the right-to-work ranks - “If Michigan can do it, then I think everybody ought to think about it.” Yet the reality appears unlikely. Here's a rundown of some of the states being mentioned:[4]

  • Missouri: Speaker of the House Tim Jones (R) said the Missouri State Legislature would address right-to-work in 2013, but acknowledged it was unlikely to pass due to a probable veto from Gov. Jay Nixon (D).[5]
  • Montana: Much like Missouri, Montana has a GOP-led legislature but a Democratic governor likely to veto any right-to-work legislation.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag Incoming governor Maggie Hassan (D) has repeatedly stated her opposition to right-to-work.[6]
  • Ohio: A group called Ohioans for Workplace Freedom is gathering signatures in an attempt to put a proposal on the November ballot that would make Ohio a right-to-work state. The group failed to get a similar measure on the ballot this year. Gov. John Kasich (R), meanwhile, said that he has a "very aggressive agenda" to keep the state competitive, but did not include a right-to-work law among his priorities.[7]
  • Pennsylvania: Although Republicans control the state legislature and governor's office, right-to-work appears unlikely in Pennsylvania. While state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R) has introduced such legislation in every session for the last 14 years, it has never gone anywhere. Gov. Tom Corbett said he would sign a right-to-work bill if passed but doubted that would happen, stating, "There is not much of a movement to do it."[8]
  • Wisconsin: While Gov. Scott Walker (R) famously took on labor unions that ultimately led to an unsuccessful recall against him this past June, he said right-to-work is not a priority and would be too distracting for the next legislative session.[9]

This week 4 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session.

The following states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions:

The next states scheduled to convene are Pennsylvania and Rhode Island on January 1, 2013.[10]

Current sessions capture for the week of December 17, 2012

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions and Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, December 17, 2012
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,339 (45.2%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,890 (52.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 36
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 59
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 4
2012 Session Information
Total Special Elections 43
Total Special Sessions 22

In 2011, special sessions were a widespread occurrence in state legislatures. This was largely due to states' having to complete the redistricting process for legislative and congressional districts. Overall in 2011, there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.

During 2012, there have been 22 special sessions in 18 states. There is one special session scheduled to take place this week in Connecticut.


The Connecticut State Legislature will hold a special session on December 19 to address proposals to reduce the state budget deficit put forth by Gov. Dan Malloy (D). The state is facing a projected $415 million deficit for the current fiscal year.[11]


The Oregon State Legislature held a one-day special session on December 14 to approve legislation allowing Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) to enter into "qualifying investment contracts" with major corporations. The goal of the bill is to make the state more attractive to businesses, locking into place the current corporate tax code for large corporations, namely Nike. Some have criticized the legislation for not applying to smaller businesses.[12]

In recess

As of today, December 17, 10 state's sessions are currently in recess:

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2012 and State legislative special elections, 2013

So far in 2012 there have been 43 special elections in 19 states.

There are two special elections taking place this week in Kentucky and Virginia.

Kentucky State Senate District 16

David Williams (R) resigned his seat in the Kentucky State Senate after he was appointed by Governor Steve Beshear as a circuit judge on the 40th judicial circuit on November 2, 2012.[14] A special election to replace him will take place on December 18, 2012.[15][16]

General election candidates:

Republican Party Sara Beth Gregory
Democratic Party Bill Conn

Virginia House of Delegates District 89

Kenny Alexander (D) resigned his seat in the House after winning a special election for the Virginia State Senate on September 4, 2012. Gov. Bob McDonnell has set a special election to fill his seat December 18. Candidates had until October 19 to file.[17][18]

General election candidates:

Democratic Party Daun Sessoms Hester
Independent James J. St John

Recent election results

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgOn December 11, Alabama's two special elections were decided:

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgRunoffArrow.jpg On December 11, Iowa's special election was decided:

  • Iowa State Senate District 22: Following a long battle with cancer, Sen. Pat Ward (R) died on October 15, 2012. Ward was seeking re-election in the November 6 general election. Her name remained on the ballot and counts were tabulated but not canvassed. Republican Party officials held a special nominating convention to name a replacement candidate for Ward, who would face Desmund Adams (D) in the December 11 special election. Republicans chose West Des Moines City Councilman Charles Schneider. Schneider defeated Adams to win the seat.[25][26][27]

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • December 18: Kentucky State Senate District 16
  • December 18: Virginia House of Delegates District 89
  • January 8, 2013: California State Senate District 4
  • January 8, 2013: Georgia State Senate Districts 11, 21 and 30
  • January 8, 2013: Georgia House of Representatives District 21
  • January 8, 2013: Mississippi House of Representatives District 59
  • January 15, 2013: Mississippi State Senate District 16
  • January 22, 2013: Iowa House of Representatives District 52
  • January 26, 2013: Texas state Senate District 6
  • March 12, 2013: South Carolina House of Representatives District 17
  • April 6, 2013: Louisiana House of Representatives District 65

See also


  1. Huffington Post, "Michigan Right-To-Work Bill Approved By Republican-Dominated House," December 11, 2012
  2. The Washington Free Beacon, " The Hoosier Legacy," December 17, 2012
  3. The Times Herald, "Obama criticizes Michigan right-to-work bills," December 10, 2012
  4. Trib Live, "Right-to-work advocates gird for resistance," December 13, 2012
  5. St. Louis Dispatch, "Missouri lawmakers expect to debate 'right to work'," December 13, 2012
  6. National Review, "What Next for Right-to-Work?," December 13, 2012
  7. The Columbus Dispatch, "Kasich: Right-to-work law not crucial for Ohio," December 10, 2012
  8. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Pennsylvania unlikely to become a right-to-work state, many say," December 14, 2012
  9. Superior Telegram, "Walker says right-to-work bill would be too distracting," December 12, 2012 (dead link)
  10. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed December 17, 2012
  11. Hartford Courant, "Malloy Proposes Plan To Balance State Budget," December 7, 2012
  12. Statesman Journal, "Senate passes Nike bill, next step: Kitzhaber's signature," December 14, 2012
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 13.8 13.9 StateScape, "Daily Session Summary," accessed December 17, 2012
  14. The Lane Report, "BREAKING NEWS: Governor appoints Senate President David Williams as circuit judge," October 26, 2012
  15., "Beshear sets Dec. 18 special election to fill Williams' state Senate seat," November 8, 2012
  16. San Francisco Chronicle, "Parties nominate candidates for Senate seat," November 16, 2012
  17. Hampton Roads, "Special election set for Dec. 18 to fill Norfolk legislative seat," September 28, 2012
  18. Virginia State Board of Elections, " List of candidates December 18, 2012 special election," accessed December 17, 2012
  19. Governor of Alabama, "Governor Bentley Appoints Blaine Galliher as Legislative Director," July 26, 2012
  20. 20.0 20.1 The Republic, "Candidates qualify for special elections to fill 2 vacant seats in Alabama House," September 11, 2012
  21. Gadsden Times, "Butler wins District 30 primary," October 23, 2012
  22. 22.0 22.1 The Republic, "2 Republicans headed to Ala. state legislature after special elections," December 11, 2012
  23. WLTZ, "Governor Bentley Calls Special Election for House District 34," August 21, 2012
  24., "Blount County's District 34 House race headed to a runoff," October 23, 2012
  25. Globe Gazette, "Sen. Ward dies; special election set for Dec. 11," October 15, 2012
  26. Caffeinated Thoughts, "Iowa GOP Nominates Charles Schneider for Iowa Senate District 22 Race," November 8, 2012
  27. My San Antonio, " Republican wins Iowa Senate special election," December 12, 2012