Normally, I would be writing you today to discuss the first week of session—what was discussed and what we should expect for the next week. However, in order to give a session preview, we would have to have had session—which didn’t happen.
I am well aware of how passionate people can be about an issue, especially if that issue revolves around their livelihood. However, I am also aware of my role as an elected official and the responsibility that comes along with that. If I don’t agree with an issue, I stay. I stay because I want to hear the debate, and I want to voice my opinion. More importantly, I want to voice the opinions of those I serve.
If any of this sounds familiar to what you read from me last session, you would be correct. The Democrats have once again walked out on their responsibility because they don’t support an issue—the issue being Right-to-Work (RTW).
Again, normally I would be writing you today to discuss what I expect this session, give a brief rundown of legislation I have filed or address legislation I plan to hear as Chairman of the House Government and Regulatory Committee. That discussion will be next week, stay tuned.
For now, I want to address RTW. It is an issue that has flooded media markets. I know here at the Statehouse, we have been discussing it every day and you are probably sick of hearing about, whether or not you support it.
The idea may be complex, but the bill itself is simple. It states that employees do not have to join a union or pay union dues as a condition or continuation of their employment. It is not a political issue; it is a policy issue that will provide individuals their freedom to choose.
I have spent weeks talking to folks that are against RTW and they’ve said their biggest concern is that it will kill off unions and the benefits unions provide. I disagree. Every individual I have spoke with tells me they will continue to pay their dues if they are required or not.
In 1995, Speaker Brian Bosma passed legislation making teacher unions in Indiana RTW. To this day, Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) remains one of the biggest unions in the state. Passing RTW in Indiana will not kill unions. It will simply give employees additional rights.
In addition, 25 to 50 percent of industrial clients exclude non-RTW states when deciding where to locate—they rank RTW third out of 10 in importance. Indiana has missed out on multiple projects that represented thousands of high-paying jobs and billions of dollars in capital investments because businesses specified RTW states only.
Hoosiers are hungry for jobs. Grant and Blackford Counties have an 11 percent unemployment rate. So when an economic development expert tells me we are missing a third of the job opportunities because we are not a RTW state, I am going to consider what they are proposing as a solution. Do I think RTW is a slam-dunk jobs bill? No, but I have to consider it as an option.