Tuesday, January 31, 2012

House Passes Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

Today the House of Representatives approved a bill establishing a pilot program in three counties where those applying for assistance from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families will tested for drugs and alcohol. The vote was 72 to 23.

The bill includes a Democratic amendment that legislators will be tested for drugs and alcohol under similar provisions to those seeking assistance. Half of the legislature would face random drug testing during each session, and the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore could also order drug testing of a particular member if there is cause for suspicion of abuse. The bill's sponsor had wanted to include missing legislative sessions as suspicious activity. (Hello, Democrats!) The leadership should have fun with that provision!

Read about this unusual piece of legislation from Huffington Post here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Governor Hopes to Sign RTW This Week

The "right to work" juggernaut rolls on. Today a Senate committee cleared the way for a vote tomorrow by refusing to allow Democrats the opportunity to propose amendments to the bill. Why? Because if bill passes the Senate just as it came over from the House, it can go straight to the governor's desk, circumventing boycott-prone House Democrats.

Senate Democrats didn't participate in the Senate committee meeting today, but their absence did not prevent a quorum. Consequently, the bill passed the out of committee on a 6 to 1 vote. The lone "no" was cast by Republican Sen. Brent Waltz of Greenwood, who said the more he learned about the issue “the more convinced I am that ‘right to work’ is wrong for Indiana.” Good for him.

The bill comes for a vote by the full Senate tomorrow. You can read more fro the Star here.

Charlie White Criminal Trial Starts

A jury was selected today for Secretary of State Charlie White's criminal trial on seven felony charges, including voter fraud, perjury and theft. If White is found guilty of any of the charges, he will have to step down from his office. Arguments will start to be heard tomorrow in the Noblesville courtroom. Here's an extensive profile from the Indianapolis Star recounting exactly how White came to this pass.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

That Was Then, This Is Now

House Votes for RTW

Indiana workers are one step closer to having their "right to work for less" established in our state as the House voted for Republican "right to work" legislation. No Democrat voted for the bill, and five Republicans voted against it. The scene was pretty chaotic as you can see below.

Democrats open Indiana House chamber doors for right-to-work debate from The Statehouse File on Vimeo.

Is the fight over? Not yet, says Rep. Scott Pelath, speaking on MSNBC tonight. He noted that only four senators needed to change their minds (10 Republican senators voted against a Senate version of the bill). He also noted that the senators were not accustomed to close votes in a high-pressure environment. (We'll try to post the video when it becomes available tomorrow.) Senator Alting needs to hear from his constituents: Senator.Alting@iga.in.gov. You can read USA Today coverage of the House vote here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Senate Votes for RTW; House Speaker Shuts Off Amendments

Today the Indiana Senate voted in favor of "right to work" legislation, 28 to 22. Nine Republican senators voted against it.

In the House, Republicans defeated every democratic amendment, including the referendum, that Speaker Bosma would allow. Here's how the day ended, according to the Indianapolis Star:

Moments after the vote rejecting the referendum was cast, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, asked if there were “further motions to amend.” He repeated those words and just as a Democrat was speaking up, Bosma gaveled the bill closed, meaning that no further amendments could be offered it was now eligible for a final vote, likely tomorrow. Democrats quickly said they needed to caucus — and left the floor.

At this writing it is not known if Democrats will participate in tomorrow's session. Read the Star's coverage here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Moore Announces Candidacy for Fourth District

Lester Terry Moore has announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination for the Fourth Congressional District, currently held by Republican Todd Rokita. He is the second Democrat to do so; Tara Nelson has already announced. Moore was Newton County assessor from 2006 to 2010 and has held positions in the county's Democratic Party. Read more about Moore's candidacy here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Maddow on Daniels as Responder to State of Union

Rachel Maddow offers this critique of Gov. Mitch Daniels as the provider of the Republican response to to Pres. Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

RTW Referendum Falls Short in Senate

A Democratic amendment to the Senate's "right to work" bill fell short of gaining a majority in the heavily Republican Senate. The vote was 14 to 36, with only one Republican voting for the amendment. Read more here.

And He Can Sing Too!

President Obama bursts into an Al Green song at a fundraiser at the Apollo Theater in New York--with Rev. Green in the audience!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Maddow Interviews Indiana Leader of Anti-RTW Republicans

Here is Rachel Maddow talking about the Lunchpail Republicans who are union supporters, opposed to the state's Republican leadership's push for "right to work." She interviews David Fagen, the leader of the Lunchpail Republicans, who says that they will "target" Republican incumbents who support it.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

RTW Amendment Found Unconstitutional But Bosma Insists Dems Go With It Anyway

So does this sound a little fishy to you? Speaker Brian Bosma says that he will let Democrats propose an amendment to the "right to work" legislation that would require a referendum on the matter to be included on the November ballot. Today was the day Minority Leader Pat Bauer agreed to present the referendum amendment. But out of the blue the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency announces that the referendum about to be proposed is unconstitutional. Bushwhacked, Leader Bauer then says the Democrats will not participate in the session until they are able to formulate another referendum that will pass constitutional muster. Speaker Bosma then excoriates Leader Bauer for breaking his word and threatens Democrats with fines of $1,000 a day for each day they do not attend the session. According to the Indianapolis Star report, "Bosma said that this is the first time 'when someone gives their word both publicly and privately and then informs you' that they will not keep it. Traditionally, Bosma said, when a legislative leader gives their word 'you can take it to the bank.'" Apparently Bosma thinks Bauer is honor-bound to proceed with proposing and bringing to a vote an amendment that is unconstitutional. Bauer indicates that Democrats would attend sessions on other topics, but Bosma prefers to fume. Stay tuned. You can read the Star's coverage here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

RTW Town Hall in Kokomo Tonight

There will be a town hall meeting on "right to work" tonight in Kokomo at 6 p.m. Click here for details.

Attendees at Local RTW Meeting Voice Concerns

On Saturday between 50 and 100 people attended a community forum on "right to work" legislation hosted by the Indiana AFL-CIO. Most, according to the media, opposed the legislation. Sheila Klinker, the only local politician attending, said it would be a difficult fight, promising that Democrats would "hang in there as hard as we can as long as we can." Jerry Misner, president of United Steelworkers Local 115, feels a referendum would help the public understand: "The issue is so divisive and so heated and so emotional. [A referendum] would give everybody in the public a good opportunity to take a breath and to understand what it's all about."

Read more about the meeting from the J&C here and from WLFI here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Democrats Will Be Able to Propose Referendum Amendment to RTW

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma has committed to allowing Democrats to propose an amendment to the "right to work" legislation that would require its implementation to be determined by a referendum vote. Bosma opposes the amendment and thinks it will be defeated, but he will allow it to be proposed and voted on. Democrats, including Sheila Klinker, have argued that a matter of this importance should have public input and that Hoosiers are very much unaware of the the implications and impact of the proposed "right to work" legislation. Read more here.

Tara Nelson Will Challenge Rokita

Tara Nelson has announced that she will be among the Democratic challengers to Rep. Todd Rokita for the 4th Congressional District seat. She was also a candidate in 2010. She's scheduled a formal campaign kickoff at 7 p.m. today at the Tippecanoe County Public Library, 627 South St. in Lafayette. Read more here.

Judge Finds Vouchers Constitutional

Marion Superior Court Judge Michael Keele has ruled that Indiana's voucher program is constitutional. He accepted the State's argument that it does not directly support religious education because it gives voucher money to families, not parochial schools directly (though the vast majority of voucher users have applied them to parochial schools). Retiring LSC Superintendent Ed Eiler, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said he was not surprised: "We've known all along this will go to the Supreme Court, and it will be up to the Supreme Court to make the final judgment. I think the intent is to pursue the appellate process and see what comes." Read more from the Journal and Courier here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thousands Protest at State House

Thousands of Hoosier workers went to the Indiana State House to protest the "right to work" legislation during Governor Daniels' State of the State address. Though the protest could clearly be heard throughout the speech, the Governor dis not acknowledge it. Here is coverage from WISH.

Protestors try to drown out Daniels: wane.com

Democrats Boycott House Session

Republican tactics on the "right to work" legislation have caused Democrats to again boycott the House legislative session, denying it a working quorum. Read more from USA Today here.

House Republicans Push "Right to Work" Law through Committee in 7 Minutes

Here's footage of the House Labor Committee rules Democratic amendments "out of order" as well as any discussion. The deliberations took only seven minutes. Democrats protested that normal process had been denied. This is dramatic illustration of how this bill is being handled.

Klinker Makes Her Case for "Right to Work" Referendum in Op-Ed

Rep. Sheila Klinker pressed her case for letting the people of Indiana decide whether the state adopts the so-called "right-to-work" by making it a referendum on the November election ballot in an editorial in the Journal Courier. Among other things she cites a Ball State study indicating that more than half of the state's population is unaware of the issue and argues that the referendum would familiarize most citizens with the issue so that they could make an informed decision. Read her editorial here.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"Right to Work" Protest at Court House

About 50 people gathered at the Tippecanoe County court house on Friday to protest the so-called "right to work" legislation being rushed through the Indiana legislature. Lewis Feldman, a member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 668 in Lafayette, told the Journal and Courier,"This is more than a union/nonunion issue. This is going to attack the very basic fundamental rights of all the middle class. The unions are the benchmark for wage-setting and conditions. Once we're gone, the nonunion sector is going to get hurt." Eric Clawson, president of Tippecanoe Building and Construction Trades Council, noted the economic impact on the state: "Once you bring down wages, you bring down the tax base." Purdue professor Harry Targ likes Sheila Klinker's proposal to make "right to work" a referendum on November's ballot. "That would be a more constructive step than this almost covert decision by Republicans at the Statehouse to act super fast," Targ said. Read more here.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

NFL Players Association Speaks Out on "Right to Work"

The NFL Players Association released a statement today in opposition to the attempt to impose so-called "right to work" on our state. Here's the final paragraph: "As Indianapolis proudly prepares to host the Super Bowl it should be a time to shine in the national spotlight and highlight the hard-working families that make Indiana run instead of launching political attacks on their basic rights. It is important to keep in mind the plight of the average Indiana worker and not let them get lost in the ceremony and spectacle of such a special event. This Super Bowl should be about celebrating the best of what Indianapolis has to offer, not about legislation that hurts the people of Indiana." Read the entire statement here.

Rachel Maddow Covers Indiana "Right to Work" Fight

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow has provided some great (and much needed) natonal coverage of Indiana's struggle to preserve unions. She links it to support from the NFL's player's union and possible protests at the upcoming Superbowl in Indianapolis. You can see the video here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

House Democrats Delay Start of Session to Protest "Right to Work"

Indiana House Democrats opted not to enter the House chambers, thereby preventing the quorum needed to conduct business, in protest of the speed with which Republicans plan to move on the controversial "right to work" legislation that is their top priority. Democratic leader Pat Bauer insisted that there should be public hearings on the bill to ensure that Hoosiers had an opportunity to weigh in on it.

Dems absent as House goes into session: wishtv.com

The Los Angeles Times calls Indiana the next battleground over labor laws here.

Governor Rescinds Access Restrictions at Statehouse

As the legislative session begins and "right to work" protestors began arriving at the capitol, Governor Daniels announced that he would rescind the just-announced restrictions on access to the Statehouse. In the WISH video below below you will hear him concede that the "political opposition" (that would be Democrats) were right in their objections to the rules: "They are right that we should err on the side of openness."

Gov. rescinds Statehouse crowd limit: wishtv.com

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Rules Limit Access to Statehouse

New Indiana State Police rules on access to the Statehouse have been announced to great consternation among many. With memories of last year's protests at the statehouse and the Wisconsin protests clearly in mind, the limit has been set at 3,000 by the Daniels administration, including legislators and employees; it has been estimated that no more than 1,000 protester will be allowed in at a time; protesters will have access through only one entrance. While the case is made based on safety concerns, it seems apparent that the new rules are directed at anticipated protests on "right to work." Democratic leaders have been quick to criticize the new rules. Senate minority leader Vi Simpson says: "Lobbyists are guaranteed a voice for their clients, but the average Hoosier has no such guarantee. If they can silence working people now, then they can silence anyone on any issue with which they disagree. Who will be next?”

Read more about the new access rules here. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette editorializes against the rules here.

Lafayette political analyst Dave Bangert sees the new rules as based on fears: "Fear of Occupy Wall Street-style campouts. Fear of tea party rallies. Fear of union members who feel under attack. Fear of teachers who wonder how many reforms critics believe they need to fix a supposedly broken public school system. Fear of college students who want to know what's being done to keep public universities in line on escalating tuition. Fear of bar owners and social club members who aren't ready to toe the line of statewide smoking regulations. Fear of, I don't know, the real voices of real Hoosiers who have real things to say." Read Bangert's editorial here.

Bauer Says Dems Won't Stand for Right to Work

Democratic leader of the Indiana House Pat Bauer provided an op-ed piece last week indicating strong Democratic resistance to the so-called "right to work" legislation that Republicans have made the Number One issue of the legislative session: "After years of listening to bragging that Indiana paces the country in job growth, now we are told that our state has not been doing so well after all. We lack one critical tool to create jobs. Its supporters call it right to work. It should be more accurately called right to work for less. If you want to be completely accurate, call it right to work for less without health care." Bauer also outlines an alternate plan for creating jobs in Indiana called Helping Hoosiers Now. Read Bauer's editorial here.

Indiana Legislative Session Begins

The Indiana legislature begins meeting today. Sheila Klinker offers thoughts on what the top issues will be in the WLFI newsclip below.

Lawmakers ready for 2012 session: wlfi.com