By Shelby Salazar
An out-of-session study committee led by Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, will on Tuesday review the controversial right-to-work issue that helped spark a six-week walk-out by Democrats in the Indiana House.
An Indiana House committee passed a so-called right-to-work bill last spring, which would have allowed workers to opt out of paying union dues. But the legislation died when Democrats opposed to the bill fled to Illinois, denying majority Republicans the quorum needed to do business. Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, announced then that the issue would be sent to a study committee for additional consideration.
That group will take up the issue at 9 a.m. Tuesday with an agenda that includes testimony from Nancy Guyott, president of the Indiana AFL-CIO; Mitch Roob, the state's commerce secretary; officials from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce; and Pete Rimsans, executive director of the Indiana State Building and Construction Trades Council.
The committee will not take public testimony.
Supporters of right-to-work legislation say it would help to bring more businesses to Indiana and increase job opportunities.
"We have a long standing position of support for right-to-work legislation," said Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. "It will improve job growth and income for Hoosiers."
Brinegar said that with the Republicans in control of the House and Senate, a right-to-work bill will pass in the future.
"Many other top priority issues, which had been held back when former Speaker of the House - Rep. (Pat) Bauer - and the Democrats were in charge, were passed this year," Brinegar said. "Right to work is unfinished, important business."
Guyott and others who oppose right to work argue that it would result in lower wages because it would cause the union to lose power.
Guyott said she want to see the committee "rule out the right-to-work legislation."
"If this is passed, this will create an even worse situation for working Hoosiers and their families," Guyott said.
Other members of the committee include Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus; Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Indianapolis; Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage; Sen. James Arnold, D-LaPorte; Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel; Rep. Sue Ellspermann, R-Ferdinand; Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes; and Rep. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend.
The above is one of an ongoing series of reports from the Indiana Statehouse by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism.