Willing to Work
It has been an interesting week. even by Statehouse standards. On Monday the House Employment, Labor and Pension Committee passed a Right to Work (RTW) bill, House Bill 1468, which provided that employees of a unionized shop have the choice of whether to join the union. 22 other states already have this law. Polls show more than 70 percent of Hoosiers and nearly half of union members support this bill. Most importantly, a RTW law would open the doors for an estimated 30 percent increase in companies interested in locating in Indiana. We desperately need those jobs in the communities I serve.
This bill doesn't play well with union leadership as they see the potential of lower union dues. They flexed their muscle at the Statehouse with hundreds of members attending the hearing and then protesting over the last four days. That is their right. I respect their concerns, but don't buy all of them. If the union is doing a good job representing its members, their membership will not suffer. Employees, like teachers who already enjoy a RTW environment, will have the ability to continue to be a dues paying member. The debate, in our democratic process, should be two-way. The union members are, for the most part, doing just that. They have gotten our attention and I have had the pleasure to talk personally with well over 100 this week. RTW legislation will likely be reconsidered as a result.
The democrat members under the leadership of Rep. Pat Bauer are another story. they walked out! Rather than deal with amending and debating bills they didn't like, they "took their toys and went to Urbana, Illinois". The Speaker of the House, Governor and President Pro Tem of the Senate have all condemned this as unacceptable behavior. We were all elected to serve in this legislature and have an obligation to do so. Republicans and democrats have been working together quite well on all but a very few bills of contention. I even serve on a committee which, for the first time in the history of Indiana, is chaired by a democrat colleague.
You decide. Did you elect your representatives to work together, pass a fiscally sound budget, bring jobs to Indiana and improve the future prospects of our children. or did you elect a representative that could go AWOL when the "going got tough" at your taxpayer expense? Some think the means justify the ends. I disagree. We are adults and should act as such.
There is much work that remains to be done. I have a bill stuck in this mess which was requested and unanimously endorsed by Perry County Council and Commissioners to assist in building a much needed new jail. It passed out of committee with bipartisan support. If the minority party stays out another week, that bill will die. Retired teachers and state employees will not get $41 million in additional retirement benefits. Most importantly, we are constitutionally required to pass a state budget. Fortunately, the democrat's demands to kill the budget bill, House Bill 1001, were not heard and the deadline has been extended to next week so the state can continue to run.
I like and respect our democrat colleagues. I think they are fine people and fine legislators. This action just shows a lapse in judgment. Please let them know you'd like them to return to the Statehouse to complete the work they were elected to do. My 59 other Republican colleagues and I will be there. willing to work.
Rep. Sue Ellspermann (R-Ferdinand)