Indiana House committee advances right-to-work bill

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 10, 2012 11:28 AM
Indiana House committee advances right-to-work bill

By Susan Guyett

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - An Indiana state House committee advanced Republican backed right-to-work legislation to the full House in a 15-minute meeting on Tuesday, one day after Democrats ended a boycott that had blocked its path.

The measure passed to the full Indiana state House of Representatives in an 8-5 vote along party lines over loud objections from opponents, who had asked to receive more testimony on the proposal they see as an assault on unions.

If the right-to-work proposal is approved, Indiana would be the first state in the industrial heartland of the United States to adopt such a law. It is in force in 22 other states, mostly in the South and West.

Indiana is home to numerous manufacturing plants for the auto industry that produce vehicles or components, including non-union and union-represented facilities.

Republican committee chairman Representative Douglas Gutwein ruled that no amendments would be heard before the bill is discussed on the floor of the House, a position objected to by Democrats on the committee.

"The light of democracy has just gone out in the Indiana House," Democratic Representative Craig Fry said.

Democrats opposed to the proposal argued that testimony on the House bill had never taken place. However, Gutwein said a hearing held on Friday was for both the House proposal and one in the Senate which has been advanced to the full Senate.

Republicans hold a 60-40 majority in the Indiana House, which needs a quorum of two-thirds of its members to be brought to order. Democrats boycotted meetings for three days to delay the right-to-work bill before relenting on Monday.

Under the current proposals, employees at unionized private workplaces would not be required to pay union dues. Supporters say the move would attract jobs to Indiana. Critics call it union busting. The proposals could be amended.

Last year, House Democrats fled the state to neighboring Illinois to avoid voting on a similar right-to-work bill and other legislation they viewed as anti-labor and anti-public education. The bill died, and other bills were altered.

(Editing by David Bailey and Paul Thomasch)