Legislature and State Government and Legislation and Politics and Government & Economic Development and Government

Lawmakers eye early finish after contentious start

February 16, 2012

Indiana state lawmakers could go home early after toughing out a grueling battle over right-to-work legislation this year.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma told House members Thursday he and Senate President Pro Tem David Long were planning to wrap things up by March 9. The 2012 session is formally scheduled to end by March 14.

Bosma said lawmakers were "emotionally drained" following the battle over right-to-work legislation that dominated the first half of the session. He also expects the move could save roughly $10,000 in costs that would have otherwise gone to pay staff and expenses paid daily to lawmakers.

"Everyone is a little more emotionally drained" after the right-to-work debate, Bosma said Thursday.

Right-to-work dominated the House from the start of the 2012 session, Jan. 4, until the end of the month, when it finally approved the legislation. In the intervening weeks House Democrats boycotted the House eight days to block the measure, hundreds of union protesters chanted in the hallways almost daily and House Republicans levied $1,000-a-day fines on the absent Democrats.

And while Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the right-to-work legislation Feb. 1, the issue is far from over as the Indiana Supreme Court weighs the fines for Democrats and unions plot to put the issue center stage for November's statewide elections.

The top issues left on lawmakers' plates this session are paying for full-day kindergarten, restructuring automatic tax refunds, closing a teacher pensions funding gap and overhauling local government, Bosma said.

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