Democrats held their ground today and continued their boycott over the Right to Work (for less) bill. Although three Democrats did attend the session, it still left the house with less than the two thirds that are constitutionally required to do business. As of now no measures are being taken to force Democrats to attend though, after last year seeing the Dems fleeing to Illinois to stop the rush approval of the same bill, Republicans pushed through new rules allowing them to fine missing members up to $1,000 a day after three days. According to speaker Bosma, as of now no fines are in the works.
House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, told Speaker Bosma R-Indianapolis in a meeting this morning that Democrats believe there are too many questions about the bill and that it shouldn't be rushed. According to Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, Democrats are considering holding hearings on the bill around the state. There is some question as to whether Hoosiers have enough information to make a decision in the bill.
Polling for Indiana REALTORS by Public Opinion Strategies shows strong backing of the Right to Work legislation by independent voters (56%), Republicans (71%) and 40% of Democrats. On the other hand a poll from Ball State University's Bowen Center for Public Affairs, probably the best independent review, shows 27% supporting right-to-work, 24% opposing and almost 50% undecided or not knowing enough to form an opinion. This would seem to support the Democrat's call to not rush legislation without further public hearings.
Dems also note that linking RTW with increases in growth is far from established. A study from The Economic Policy Institute, titled “Working hard to make Indiana look bad” points out that "Four of the five fastest-growing states in the country were non-RTW states, and Indiana's growth was 25 percent greater than that of its nearest RTW neighbor, Iowa."
There has been strong turnout by the unions, Occupy groups from Indianapolis, Bloomington and Muncie and other labor groups. The Indiana AFL-CIO, in an email, is asking people to turn out for a large protest today (Friday). The session starts at 9:00 and the gathering for the protest starts at 7:30. They're also asking those who can't attend to call or email their representatives.
MoveOn.org, also in an email is asking people to gather for a rally at 11:00:
“Please join us to voice opposition to the Right to Work for Less bill. The Senate and House labor committees are planning a joint session to rush the bill through committee tomorrow. Let our representatives know how this will impact your family and community. Governor Daniels has rescinded the temporary restrictions on numbers admitted to the Statehouse. However, it will be 49 and sunny, so we will meet in front of the east side of the Statehouse.”
Although, as noted, the limit on the number of protesters allowed in the Statehouse has been lifted, there are other restrictions, including: “no protest signs larger than 2’ X 2’, no signs on sticks, no obscenity, no engaging in lewd acts contrary to state law and no Coke cans”. (It's a Hoosierism to refer to any soda generically as a "Coke". I'm assuming other brands of beverages are forbidden as well.)
Remember to let your representative know how you feel about RTW! Tomorrow I'll cover the festivities at the Statehouse and then, this weekend, I'll look into the background of John Gregg, our Democratic Candidate for governor and Indiana's school voucher program.