Just one day into the 2011 Indiana legislative season and Republicans, fresh off having secured a majority in both chambers of the Statehouse, have already come out swinging.
The class of 2011 had hardly taken its seats when Republicans introduced House Bill 1028, the the so-called "Right to Work" bill, to the floor of the House — a contentious piece of legislation that Gov. Mitch Daniels has already said he'd just as well avoid.
The bill, if passed, would eviscerate union negotiating power statewide, by securing an employee's right not to join a union at a unionized company (think the auto industry).
"The main reason that data in some of the states with So-Called “Right to Work” (RTW) laws show fast job creation over the past decade is actually because populations are growing and they have larger service sectors," said Allison Luthe, a community organizer for Central Indiana Jobs with Justice (JwJ), a social justice advocacy group, in a recent statement.
Luthe noted that states that already had RTW legislation on the books were struggling. Personal income is not growing in these other states," she said. "Right to Work states are some of the poorest states in the nation - and Indiana will be next on the list if we don’t take action now."
House Democrats attempted to thwart the bill's introduction by demanding that each bill be read separately. Suzannah Couch, a statehouse reporter for Franklin College's, The Franklin, writes:
When bill list number one was read, State Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, said House Rule 115 was violated. Austin said, as a point of order, that “each bill should be read in name and title individually.”
Minutes later, House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, quoted the Indiana Constitution and he said “every bill shall be read by title.”
Bauer said that he was just doing his job as minority leader.
“I’m just trying in a way to help you manage this. There are bad things coming down the pike that can be eliminated,” he said.
Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, said Speaker Brian Bosma is doing what Bauer, the speaker from 2006 through 2010, did for four years.
Democrats' attempts to block the bill were defeated by a majority vote and assigned to committee.
There looks to be a lot at stake in this legislative session: including bills on the environment, a new two-year budget, voter redistricting plans, education measures and, very possibly with Republican control of the House, Senate and Governor's mansion, legislation on hot issues like gay marriage, reproductive rights and immigration.
In addition to our own reporting, staff-strapped NUVO will mercilessly pillage Franklin's fine student reporting from the Statehouse throughout the session — in order to keep you up-to-date, dear reader, through this most trying of times. Smiley face!