Usually when writing about political events things move at a relatively steady pace. An event occurs, we scribe about it, a subsequent event happens after that, we write about it and so on and so on. However, with the “right to work” debate over at the Indiana General Assembly, events have been moving so quickly and so fluidly that by the time you began writing about one incident, the subsequent event had already taken place. So now that there is brief lull in the storm, let’s take a second to catch our breaths and see where we are and how close are we to this being over?
Right now, the Indiana Senate has just gone through second readings on the legislation. Democrats offered up a number of amendments, all of which were defeated. The most important amendment was a referendum. In a nutshell, if lawmakers approved RTW it would have gone into effect on Nov 5, the day before the election, however the voters would get their say on Nov 6 and if they voted it down, RTW would not go into effect. House Democrats have offered up a similar amendment scheduled to be heard on Monday, provided they show up.
Republicans argued the amendment violated two provisions of the Indiana Constitution, Article 1, Section 25
No law shall be passed, the taking effect of which shall be made to depend upon any authority, except as provided in this Constitution.
And Article 4, Section 1.
The Legislative authority of the State shall be vested in a General Assembly, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The style of every law shall be: “Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana”; and no law shall be enacted, except by bill.
By allowing the public to chime in via referendum, Senate Republicans say the measure violates those two provisions and therefore would not pass Constitutional muster. Democrats say the only way a measure can be found unconstitutional is if a court makes that decision. And they also pointed to a number of measures whose constitutionality were debated on the floor, but later upheld by the court, i.e. school vocuhers.
The reality of this is as the Senate has moved forward and defeated the referendum amendment, it has given the House Republicans who might have been on the fence about an amendment to vote it down since they can now argue that the measure won’t pass the other chamber so there is no point in voting for it when the House is scheduled to take up the issue Monday afternoon.
Do not be surprised if RTW is passed out of both Chambers by the end of the week.