Indiana News

Daniels Weighs Political Impact of Right-to-Work

Governor to unveil legislative agenda December 16

12/12/2011

Governor Daniels is preparing to release his agenda for his final legislative session -- and still considering his stance on one key issue: a right-to-work law.

Republican legislative leaders have declared right-to-work their top priority for the session, which gets underway in earnest next month. Daniels has consistently echoed their arguments in favor of the law prohibiting unions from collecting even partial dues from non-members: he says it would put Indiana in the running for projects the state can't get considered for, and would keep the state ahead of competitors in the race to lure new jobs.

Daniels says he's reviewed statistical studies claiming to show wages are lower in right-to-work states, and has concluded they don't hold water.

But the governor hasn't endorsed the bill yet. While he says the economic arguments all line up one way, he's still weighing the political argument.

"You've heard me say at different times over the course of the last few years, 'Indiana can win and Indiana can move ahead with the labor laws we have -- let's not have a divisive debate over things when there's so much we can work on,'" Daniels says.

In the last session, Daniels publicly counseled Republicans against pushing right-to-work. House Democrats bolted the state when a House committee approved the bill, and didn't return for five weeks even after Daniels and legislative leaders took the bill off the table. Daniels has written of his frustration that the furor over right-to-work nearly torpedoed his package of education initiatives.

Daniels is holding the details of his 2012 legislative package for release in a speech December 16, but says it'll focus on job creation, education, and government reform -- frequent themes in his previous sessions, and areas where he says work is never truly complete.

The governor says to expect the same wide-ranging agenda he's pushed in previous sessions. He says no one should expect him to turn into a lame duck.

"I take some comfort from the fact that we're about to enter Year 8, and no one's really found the duck to be limping so far," Daniels says. "A lot of previous officeholders I can think of were considered lame years before this."

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