GOP legislative leaders announced Monday that passage of a right-to-work bill will be the top priority in the 2012 session.
"We have to do everything we can to push the envelope of economic development," said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne. "It's about jobs. Period."
The issue set off a five-week walkout by House Democrats last year, and it promises to be volatile again in 2012.
Both Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma said legislators need to stay in their seats this year debating and voting on the measure.
"I don't expect a free-for-all. I do expect an intense debate," Bosma said.
Right-to-work legislation would prohibit agreements between unions and employers that require all workers to pay union or representation fees.
Opponents say such bans are unfair because under federal law, union contracts still cover all employees regardless of whether they are members. They also allege wages will drop in the state because of the policy shift.
Currently, 22 states have right-to-work laws.
House Democratic Leader Patrick Bauer responded to the GOP announcement Monday by saying his caucus is “willing and able to do what is necessary” to halt the right-to-work movement.
But he would not be specific about whether his members would shut down the session again through a walkout.
“Many of us are aware that this could be the eventual decline and fall of Indiana’s economic viable state, and that’s important to everybody,” Bauer said.
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