Daniels Outlines Final Legislative Agenda
"Right-To-Work" Bill Makes Divisive Session Likely
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (WIBC.com photo: Liz Thomas)
|House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer
(WIBC.com photo: Liz Thomas)
Gov. Mitch Daniels lists right-to-work legislation, local government reform and a statewide smoking ban as part of his final legislative agenda as leader of the state.
Daniels outlined his top priorites during a luncheon in downtown Indianapolis Friday, defending his controversial endorsement of so-called right-to-work legislation that would make it illegal for a worker to be forced to pay union dues to keep a job.
The governor says it's a matter of creating jobs. He believes Indiana loses hundreds of new job opportunities because the state doesn't have a "right-to-work" law.
"Jobs and economic opportunity is the single most important goal and has been for us for seven years," Daniels said.
But Indiana House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend) argues it would begin a downward spiral of wages.
"The truth is that workers in right-to-work states make about $5,000 less," Bauer said.
Daniels also plans to push for a referendum to voters in Marion and Hamilton counties next fall to fund a $1.3 billion expanded mass transit system, though he stopped short of endorsing the plan itself.
Additionally, the governor says he wants to shore up the state's laws regarding human trafficking and enact a statewide smoking ban, both before the upcoming Super Bowl.
Daniels also supports more compensation for victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.
The state currently limits compensation from a single event to $5 million. So far, all but $2,000 has been claimed by 65 victims, including the estates of the seven people killed in the incident.
Since taking office in 2005, Daniels has put the state on daylight saving time, leased the Indiana Toll Road, removed collective bargaining rights for public workers and privatized delivery of the state's welfare services.
Daniels is term-limited from seeking re-election next year. Lawmakers return for the shortened 2012 session Jan. 4.