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Indiana Right to Work Bill Could Wrap Up Today

Yesterday, the State Senate in Indiana passed right-to-work legislation. Republicans have such an advantage in the state Senate that quorum rules are irrelevant, so Democrats were unable to mount a defense. The final vote was actually 28-22, with nine Republicans voting against the measure, in a self-protective move designed to blunt criticism of them for the eventual passage.

In the House, Republicans beat back every one of the Democratic attempts at amending the legislation, including an amendment that would put the bill up for a public referendum. So today really is the day, as Democrats decide whether or not to walk out and deny a quorum in the House.

The House could vote on an identical version of the bill today — if, that is, enough House Democrats are present to let a vote take place.

Democrats have repeatedly shut down the House this session, denying Republicans the quorum they need to do business, and they went behind closed doors again late Monday […]

Thousands of labor union members packed the House and Senate galleries and filled the hallways outside both chambers Monday. About 110 union members from a Munster laborers union even went to the home of House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, to protest the bill.

“Mr. Bosma and the Republican Party have made it their intention to hit us at our dinner table, so that’s where we want to hit him,” said Kevin Roach, business manager of Laborers’ International Union Local 41.

It’s pretty clear that, if Democrats stay in session, right-to-work will pass. The fact that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels once opposed right-to-work (see the video above) won’t stop him from signing the legislation. Daniels will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union tonight, and the ad above will run in Indiana after the address. But at this point, a House Democratic walkout is really the last chance. Republicans obviously don’t mind the pressure they’re getting from local labor.

One amendment exempting building and construction trade unions from the changes did pass in the House yesterday, and I’m unclear on whether that was in the Senate bill. So we may see some bouncing back and forth before this gets done. But if Democrats show up to work, I think you can say for sure that it will get done.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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