* After about a month in self-imposed exile, Indiana House Democrats have finally left Urbana and headed home to Indianapolis. Here’s what they got…
So-called “right to work” legislation, which bars companies and unions from negotiating a contract that requires non-union members to pay fees for representation, is off the table, at least for now. House committee passage of this bill on Feb. 21 triggered the walkout. The measure is headed to a study committee.
Also dormant are 22 other bills that were approved in committee but did not clear the legislative process because of the walkout. Those include one that bars a future governor from signing an executive order allowing collective bargaining for state employees; another that would allow private companies to take over failing public schools; and one that bars funding to Planned Parenthood. However, the Senate still could deal with some of those issues.
House Bill 1003, which would allow some public school students to use state dollars to pay private school tuition, will be changed. Republicans have agreed to limit the number of vouchers to 7,500 in the first year and 15,000 the second.
House Bill 1216, which affects project labor agreements and wages paid on public construction projects. Current law requires the agreements, which guarantee a certain number of union jobs in exchange for no-strike pledges, on all projects that cost more than $150,000. As introduced, that threshold shot up to $1 million, with all school and university projects exempt. Republicans agreed to a series of changes during the walkout, lowering the threshold last week to $350,000 and including schools and universities. The final proposed amendment — put on the table late Thursday and filed in the House on Monday — phases that in over two years.
* The spin wars have begun in earnest…
House Speaker Brian Bosma, an Indianapolis Republican, said it was “public pressure” that drew the minority party back.
Not so, Democrats said.
“We are coming back after softening the radical agenda,” said House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer, a Democrat from South Bend.
“We won a battle, but we recognize the war goes on.”
Republicans, though, said the changes to which they’ve agreed probably would have happened during the regular course of action anyway.