Monday, March 12, 2012

"Right to work" dances around Jobs

GOP Sens. Ingebrigtsen and Miller both oppose the amendment
Late Thursday, the Senate held a vote open for nearly 10 minutes to get the 34 votes needed to transfer the so-called "right to work" constitutional amendment (SF 1705) from the Jobs Committee to the Judiciary Committee. Monday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee scraped together a 7-6 majority to send the "right to work" amendment on to the Rules Committee. For the second time in four days, the amendment was on life support, only to be revived by a parliamentary maneuver and a bare majority vote. Now SF 1705 is only one stop from the Senate floor.

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R - Alexandria) voted with 5 DFL Senators to reject the amendment. Another Republican, Sen. Michael Jungbauer (R - East Bethel) previously stated he wouldn't vote for it, but ultimately joined the other 6 Republicans in approving the amendment and sending it the Rules Committee.

During the hearing, Jungbauer expressed his desire to see it referred back to the Jobs Committee, and said he didn't understand why it had skipped the Jobs Committee. He must have a very short memory. On Thursday he voted on the Senate floor to allow the amendment to skip the Jobs Committee. Jungbauer then voted to skip the Jobs Committee again today. Jungbauer may be feeling some pressure to support "right to work" from the right wing of his party, considering he faces a looming endorsement battle with Sen. Michelle Benson (R - Ham Lake) who is a co-author of another "right to work" bill.

Sen. Dave Thompson (R - Lakeville) has successfully engineered the friendliest and shortest path for this amendment to reach a vote of the full Senate. The real question is whether the Rules Committee will schedule SF 1705 for a vote, since the 7-4 GOP majority appears to be likely to approve it. According to Senate rules, proposed constitutional amendments must be approved by the Rules Committee before heading to the Senate floor.

Labor packed the hallways around the hearing
I'd estimate that 800 to 1,000 people packed the ground floor of the Capitol, and I didn't see a single person in favor of the amendment. Chants of "kill the bill," "just vote no," and "this is what democracy looks like!" resonated through the building from 7:30 to noon as protestors made their opinion well known to the committee. Unfortunately, their voices did not sway the Senate on this day. But House members take heed; labor will be out in force if you choose to take it up.

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