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Bill to ban Indiana teacher union deductions advances

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Republicans sparked protests from teachers and union officials Tuesday by pushing legislation through a House committee that would bar Indiana schools from automatically deducting union dues from teacher paychecks, an issue that critics thought was off the table this year.

The legislation, which has the support of Gov. Mike Pence, cleared the House Education Committee along party lines.

If the plan makes its way through the GOP-controlled Legislature, it would be another major blow to Indiana's unions. A right-to-work law was approved last year that banned collecting mandatory union fees at private businesses, a year after lawmakers restricted the collective bargaining power of teachers.

"This is being done, in my opinion, to do nothing but stifle their representative voice, as other legislation that has been passed in recent history," said Rick Muir, president of the Indiana Federation of Teachers.

Pence, a Republican, and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce logged their support for the measure Tuesday. Chamber President Kevin Brinegar said a school district or other government unit should not be involved in collecting money which can then be used for political purposes.

Rep. Jeff Thompson, a retired high school chemistry teacher who said he paid union dues by check, slipped the proposal in shortly before a key legislative deadline Tuesday in the House. The Republican from Lizton said deducting union dues from paychecks is equivalent to lawmakers raising political donations using their Statehouse phones.

"Even though it costs the state nothing, it's wrong for me to collect contributions using the Statehouse property," Thompson said. "It's just not the way it should be done, is it?"

But it's unclear how the legislation would fare in the Senate. The chairman of that chamber's education committee, Sen. Dennis Kruse, said he had decided not to consider a similar Senate bill on teacher union dues and wasn't sure whether he would act on the House measure.

"I think we've the teachers pretty hard the last couple of years, and I don't think we need to keep doing things that from their perspective would hurt them," said Kruse, a Republican from Auburn. "I think we should just pause for a little while and let some of these changes we've made be implemented and let things go on for a little bit."

The support marks something of a surprise from Pence, who did not mention the issue during his campaign and left it out of his policy "roadmap." A top policy adviser, however, told the committee that the governor favored the measure.

"Governor Pence supports this bill because it rewards high-performing schools and teachers with more freedom and flexibility, and he does not believe public schools should collect money for private entities," Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault said after the committee vote.

The measure now heads to the full House.

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  • Thanks MarcusR
    Actually you're wrong Marcus, the GOP hates people smarter then they are.
  • Common Sense Change
    The difference between the govt. collecting a donation to United Way and collecting a union due is that the employee willingly directed the United Way contribution. Many employees have surendered payment of union dues as an involuntary deduction as a condition to employment. Making mandatory patronage to any political, religious or private institution as a condition of gainful employement is unconscienable. A governmental organization's participation in making such collection is tantamount to forced recognition of a religion or political party, and a violation of freedom of expression. How the Government got into the collection business to begin with was unconstitutional or misguided. This is a good start in the reformation of our educational institutions and the quality of instruction.
  • Please Educate Me
    So if I want to join a club, trade, or service group, I write a check for the dues directly to the org I want to join, and I get my membership card. In return I get to enjoy the benefits of being a member of that group, and I know my money goes toward a cause I support. How is asking union members to simply send their dues directly to the group they support any different? Why should the government act as the collections arm of any private entity? And how does this make the GOP hate teachers? I'm open to be convinced of the other side of this position, but I have not yet heard a compelling, logical position as to why the government should collect a private entities' monies on behalf of that entity? (And I mean any entity). Should the govt collect tithes on behalf of the church? HINT: 'The GOP hates teachers' falls *just a bit* short of a response that requires the ability to articulate a cogent thought.
  • .
    GOP may hates Unions... Unions are not the same as teachers.
  • What did we expect?
    This is just more of the same from the Party of Stupid. Thanks to the poster who brought up the United Way. If this bill becomes law, I hope that no funds for any private entities are collected including United Way. That's the only way I might believe this wasn't yet another measure to screw the unions. And why is the Chamber of Commerce butting in on this? This organization has just become an extension of the Republican Party.
  • Stop the anti-teacher crusade
    I'm a state employee, and my contribution to United Way is taken from my state-issued paycheck. How is that any different than union dues? These schmucks are going to drive good teachers out of the profession and steer any sensible people away from becoming teachers. Then we'll see how well Indiana's workforce stacks up against national and international competition.
  • Heaven help us from the Indiana GOP.
    They are determined to keep us in the past and maybe it is not in the dark ages, but, they are keeping Indiana from moving forward in the world and acomplishing something worthwhile. Seriously, it is making Indiana a laughing stock in the country...those bacwards Hoosiers. To call someone a Hoosier is to mock them.
  • GOP
    Republicans hate teachers. It's as simple as that.

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    1. The deductible is entirely paid by the POWER account. No one ever has to contribute more than $25/month into the POWER account and it is often less. The only cost not paid out of the POWER account is the ER copay ($8-25) for non-emergent use of the ER. And under HIP 2.0, if a member calls the toll-free, 24 hour nurse line, and the nurse tells them to go to the ER, the copay is waived. It's also waived if the member is admitted to the hospital. Honestly, although it is certainly not "free" - I think Indiana has created a decent plan for the currently uninsured. Also consider that if a member obtains preventive care, she can lower her monthly contribution for the next year. Non-profits may pay up to 75% of the contribution on behalf of the member, and the member's employer may pay up to 50% of the contribution.

    2. I wonder if the governor could multi-task and talk to CMS about helping Indiana get our state based exchange going so Hoosiers don't lose subsidy if the court decision holds. One option I've seen is for states to contract with healthcare.gov. Or maybe Indiana isn't really interested in healthcare insurance coverage for Hoosiers.

    3. So, how much did either of YOU contribute? HGH Thank you Mr. Ozdemir for your investments in this city and your contribution to the arts.

    4. So heres brilliant planning for you...build a $30 M sports complex with tax dollars, yet send all the hotel tax revenue to Carmel and Fishers. Westfield will unlikely never see a payback but the hotel "centers" of Carmel and Fishers will get rich. Lousy strategy Andy Cook!

    5. AlanB, this is how it works...A corporate welfare queen makes a tiny contribution to the arts and gets tons of positive media from outlets like the IBJ. In turn, they are more easily to get their 10s of millions of dollars of corporate welfare (ironically from the same people who are against welfare for humans).

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