Indiana House Democrats prevent start of session over right-to-work bill
By Greg Janetka
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana: The 2012 session of the Indiana Legislature officially began on January 4, but the House has yet to meet as Democrats have stayed in caucus, preventing the 67 members necessary for a quorum. Republicans currently hold a 60-40 majority in the chamber.
The issue at the heart of the matter is "right-to-work" legislation that Republicans have long said would be their top priority in 2012. The legislation seeks to ban companies and unions from negotiating a contract that requires non-union members to pay union dues. Republicans argue the move would bring jobs to the state while Democrats say it will lead to lower wages.
Similar legislation led to a major showdown between Democrats and Republicans last year. The battle came to a head on February 22, 2011, when 37 Democrats walked out of the House chambers in order to prevent a quorum necessary to act on the bill. The missing legislators returned on March 28, with both sides making compromises. One of those compromises was shelving the "right-to-work" bill for a year. This year, Democrats say they will not return until Republicans agree to hold public meetings on the legislation around the state. House Minority Leader Pat Bauer called the maneuver "a filibuster until we can get the truth."
While hundreds of protestors filled the statehouse, the legislation advanced today as the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee voted 6-4 to send the legislation to the full Senate. Following 5 and a half hours of testimony, Republican Brent Waltz and three Democrats voted against the bill.
- Indiana Republicans prepare to take on unions with "right-to-work" legislation in 2012
- Indiana House Democrats return after 36 days
- Indiana Democrats now fined $350 per day, no end in sight
- Indiana House of Representatives
- Indianapolis Star, "Rare joint hearing accelerates 'right to work' bill," January 6, 2012
- Christian Science Monitor, "Indiana braces for Wisconsin-style showdown over union bill - again," January 5, 2012
- Indianapolis Star, "Indiana Senate labor committee sends 'right to work' to full Senate," January 6, 2012
- Washington Post, "Ind. House Dems may end block on labor bill soon, speaker not yet imposing fines," January 6, 2011