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Dems boycott Senate committee; right-to-work bill passes, 6-1

People gather against Right To Work Bill during rally steps IndianStatehouse Saturday January 28 2012. (Matt Detrich / The Star)

People gather against the Right To Work Bill during a rally on the steps of the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday, January 28, 2012. (Matt Detrich / The Star)

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Updated: March 1, 2012 8:44AM



INDIANAPOLIS — Right-to-work legislation cleared one of its final steps Monday with an Indiana Senate committee passing the bill.

The bill passed, 6-1, with Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Indianapolis, voting against it.

“The more testimony I hear the more convinced I am right-to work is wrong for Indiana,” Waltz said. “It will cost jobs.”

But Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, who is carrying the legislation, said lawmakers have vetted the potential of Indiana becoming the 23rd right-to-work state.

“I think Indiana needs jobs,” Yoder said. “We have 9 percent unemployment and any promise of new jobs we need to look at.”

Senate Democrats didn’t attend the committee hearing on the legislation that’s divided this session of the Indiana General Assembly. Democrats feel Senate leadership is violating the chamber’s traditions with what they described as an expedient timetable. A final vote is scheduled for Wednesday on the bill.   

Senate President Pro Tem David Long said the goal is for the governor to receive the legislation before the Super Bowl. Long said the General Assembly has moved on bills quickly before, including last year’s legislation on voting centers and unemployment insurance.

“We’re dealing with a very unusual situation here at the Statehouse for two sessions now. We’ve never seen walkouts like this in modern times,” Long said. “We haven’t had the unrest and upset of our process and so this bill which has been the most contentious of all of them over the last two years… it gives us the opportunity to get it done now and get it past us.”

As the hearing began, the three Democrats who serve on the committee announced they wouldn’t attend.

“Too much power produces arrogance and arrogance all of a sudden says, ‘Hey, the rules don’t apply to me anymore,’ and that’s exactly what they’re doing here,” Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, said to the cheers of union supporters gathered outside the Senate. “They’re breaking all the rules on this without even an attempt to make any justification.”

The Senate Committee on Pensions and Labor heard the bill the Indiana House passed last Wednesday. A bill is required to pass both chambers before it’s eligible for law. Republicans hold a supermajority in the Senate, so Democrats can’t shut down the chamber like in the House.

The House bill is identical to the right-to-work bill the Senate passed last Monday.

Local 150 International Union of Operating Engineers representative Todd Vandermyde said the bill goes against a protection found in the state constitution restricting services from being demanded without just compensation.

“This bill forces my local and many others to render representation to people who choose not to be a member and pay any fees,” Vandermyde said.

The bill now moves to the full Senate with the potential for amendments Tuesday and a final vote Wednesday.



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