Racial Sensitivity 101


If you are following the right-to-work

debate in the Indiana

General Assembly

, you probably have whiplash from your head spinning back

and forth trying to figure out where things are going.

You are not alone.Events are changing so frequently that

by the time this post is written we could be staring down an entirely different

set of political circumstances.One

element that seems to be sorting itself out, however, is whether a voter

referendum could ease the right-to-work gridlock.

On Friday, both Indiana House and

Senate Democrats unveiled amendments for a referendum on RTW.The measure basically said that if RTW

passed the General Assembly, which it likely will, then it would go into effect

on Monday, November 5.However,

voters would get the chance to reject it on the November 6 election and if they

did, it would be repealed on November 7.Democrats have argued that on a matter this big, the

public should have input.In

addition, they argue the public doesn't know much about the issue so it needs

time to make an informed decision.Note, the latest AFL-CIO

poll showed 35 percent of the public supports RTW, 36 percent oppose or

somewhat oppose RTW, and 30 percent had no opinion.

Senate Republicans and House

Republicans in general oppose the referendum idea, even though the House will

allow a vote on the measure.They

argue a statewide referendum violates two provisions of the Indiana

State Constitution


Article 1, Section 25

No law shall

be passed, the taking effect of which shall be made to depend upon any

authority, except as provided in this Constitution.

And Article 4, Section 1.


Legislative authority of the State shall be vested in a General Assembly, which

shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The style of every

law shall be: "Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of

Indiana"; and no law shall be enacted, except by bill.

Since the Indiana General Assembly is the only body that can create

statewide law, Republicans say a voter referendum would violate the state Constitution.

Referenda are allowed, however, for amendments to the Constitutions. Voters

have seen this provision in action on property

tax caps

and on the marriage


scheduled to hit the ballot this fall.

At the local level, referenda are allowed to get around property tax caps as

well some other measures like the elimination of township assessors.Apart from property tax caps, the only

statewide referendum I discovered in the modern era that affected policy, per

se, was the lottery in 1988.Indiana voters by a 62 percent majority voted to repeal the prohibition

in the Indiana Constitution against gaming and the lottery.However the creation of the Lottery

didn't happen until it was approved by the Indiana Legislature in 1989.

Ultimately, the RTW decision will be made where it should be, with the

Indiana General Assembly.

This is a republic not a direct democracy and people elect their officials

to represent them.Critics are

correct when they say no one campaigned on this issue, but by that logic and

elected official could only introduce bills that they campaign on; which makes

no sense.

If you want to see real referendum madness up close and personal check out

California where the same people who approve tougher sentencing measures via

referendum are the same people who, via referendum, refuse to pay to build new


And if we can do a referendum for right to work, why not on reproductive


, education reform, or whether sugar cream pie should be the official

pie of the State of Indiana?

Stop the madness before it begins.

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is an attorney, the editor of IndyPolitics.Org and a frequent political analyst for RTV 6.


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