Indiana Senate committee passes Right-to-Work bill; Unions protest while Democrats boycott

By   /   January 9, 2012  /   News  /   No Comments

By Lindsey Dodge | Michigan Capitol Confidential

INDIANAPOLIS — After nearly six hours of testimony and debate, the Indiana state Senate Pensions and Labor Committee approved Senate Bill 269 by a 6-to-4 vote. Commonly referred to as a “right-to-work” law, SB 269 would make it a Class A misdemeanor to require an individual to join or remain in a union or to pay any dues, fees or other charges to that same labor organization. The bill now goes to the full state Senate, despite the continued absence of a House quorum in the intended joint committee meeting between the House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee.

No amendments were allowed in the hearing.

The House and Senate will be called back into session again on Monday. Republican proponents intend to pass the bill in the Senate by the end of next week, but await boycotting Democratic House members for the progression of the bill’s discussion.

All those who voted in favor of the bill were Republicans; all those who voted against the bill were Democrats save Republican Sen. Brent Waltz. In 2004, Sen. Waltz defeated Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst, whose campaign was partially funded by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber testified in favor of right-to-work today.

“It’s kind of a personal vendetta, best I can tell. He’s a businessman; he normally would vote for it,” said Republican Sen. Dennis Kruse, who voted in favor of the bill’s passage today.

Sen. Waltz could not be reached for comment at the time of this story.

The hearing was held in the House Commons so as to accommodate the pro-union crowd. A limited number of seats were available to protestors via the viewing balcony, and Indiana State Police allowed people to take turns. Many others crowded outside the room, listening through a speaker; still others manned the outside of the Capitol building. As pro-right-to-work speakers exited the building after testimony, they were booed and heckled by the surrounding crowd.