Today the Indiana State Senate debated a number of amendments on Senate Bill 269, the so-called “Right to Work” bill. Senate Democrats offered seven amendments, including an amendment by State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage) that would allow a public referendum if the legislation was approved by the Indiana General Assembly and became law.
AMENDMENT #13: Public referendum on “Right to Work”
Under Sen. Tallian’s proposal, the legislation would become effective on Nov. 5, 2012, and include an expiration date of Nov. 7. A public vote would be held on Nov. 6 providing voters with the choice of allowing the law to expire or affirming the law and eliminating the expiration. Amendment 13 was defeated by a vote of 14-36.
SEN. TALLIAN: “This so-called “Right to Work” issue has divided our legislature this year, last year and in previous years…”
Senate Democrat Leader Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville) rose in support of the referendum saying it would allow time for the public to fully learn the language of the bill and then voice their opinion. Simpson contended that if those on either side of the facts were confident in their research, they should be open to a public discussion on the merits of the bill.
SEN. SIMPSON: “This amendment is about letting the people have a voice. You know, we tried to close down the statehouse…”
State Senator John Broden (D-South Bend) also spoke in support of the amendment, saying that he has seen no issue that requires more public education and input than the so-called Right to Work legislation. Broden also quoted comments from Governor Daniels urged the legislature in his 2008 State of the State address to “trust the people, give them the facts and let them vote” in reference to another public debate
SEN. BRODEN: “In the eleven years that I have been here in the General Assembly I don’t think I have ever encountered an issue that more strongly begs for a vote from the people…”
AMENDMENT #5: Affirming current right to not join unions
Sen. Tallian also offered an amendment to the bill that would strip all language except the clause that protects an individual’s right not to be required to join a union. Tallian said the amendment should address the primary concern asserted by “Right to Work” advocates that the issue centered on one’s freedom to not join a union. Amendment 5 was defeated by a 13 – 37 vote along party lines.
SEN. TALLIAN: “Federal law already prohibits forced unionization, but for those skeptics I offer this solution…”
AMENDMENT #3: Protecting existing union contracts with in-state employers
Another amendment offered today would have grandfathered in existing negotiated contracts between employers and employees. State Senator Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) spoke in favor of the amendment arguing that it would provide an alternative by making Indiana a “Right to Work” state for businesses relocating here after the law’s effective date, but not affect current contracts between unions and employers already doing business in the state. Some proponents, including Governor Daniels, have said the “Right to Work” law is critical for recruiting new employers to the state. Amendment 3 was defeated by a 14-36 vote with one Republican voting in favor of the amendment along with the chamber’s 13 Democrats.
SEN. LANANE: “So I have a little bit of a problem with the argument that I have heard about Right to Work..”
AMENDMENT #2: Set back effective date to Jan. 1, 2013
Another amendment would have removed an unusual emergency clause and effective date of Mar. 14, 2012. State Senator Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte) spoke in support of the amendment, saying the implementation of a law with such dramatic effects on working families should not be rushed. Legislation typically has an effective date of July 1, the beginning of a new state fiscal year, or Jan.1. Amendment 2, which would have moved the law’s effective date to Jan. 1, 2013, was defeated by a 14 – 37 vote.
SEN. ARNOLD: “I think this bill is being driven and being geared around the Superbowl..”
State Senator Tim Skinner (D-Terre Haute) also spoke in support of the amendment, saying that he sees no need for the emergency clause when even the governor has stated that there is no rush to approve the legislation at an accelerated speed.
SEN. SKINNER: “I see absolutely no need to rush this on, to have an emergency provision in this bill…”