(INDIANAPOLIS) - As legislators head back to Indianapolis next week for their first meeting in 2012, they will face legislative proposals ranging from a statewide smoking ban to a crackdown on human sex-trafficking.
But it's Gov. Mitch Daniels' push for "right to work" legislation that is expected to dominate discussion in the 2012 Indiana General Assembly.
For the past few months, Daniels has made it clear that he will continue to push "right to work," which states an employee cannot be required, as a condition of employment, to join or pay dues to a labor union.
"Right to work' says only that no worker can be forced to pay union dues in order to keep a job," Daniels said in a statement earlier this month. "Lack of that simple freedom to choose costs some workers money they'd rather keep, but it also costs something even larger: countless middle-class jobs that would come to Indiana if only we provided right to work protection."
If it passes, Indiana will be the 23rd state to enact such a law.
Proponents state the legislation would attract more business to Indiana, while opponents argue the law would cripple unions and harm their ability to obtain higher wages for workers.
During the 2011 session, the battle over the issue became so intense that House Democrats staged a five-week walkout primarily to block the legislation.
In 2012, State Sen. Brent Steele is introducing a number of bills, including one that would make the laws covering the operation of a watercraft the same as those for operating a motor vehicle. Another would change the age through which a parent must pay support for a child from 21 to 19, and another would temporarily increase filing fees on civil actions by 50 cents to help pay for pro bono services.
The 2012 Indiana General Assembly will be what's called a short session and must end by March 14. Legislators won't need to pass a budget, which is done every two years during a long session. The session is also expected to lose some time while Indianapolis is overrun with tourists for the Super Bowl in early February.
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