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Associated Press
Protesters gather to oppose right-to-work legislation on Thursday outside the House chamber at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.
General Assembly

Unions give hints of Super Bowl ruckus

– As the dysfunction in the Indiana House dragged on Thursday, worries over a Super Bowl protest began to rise.

Indiana is set to host one of the sporting world’s biggest events on Feb. 5.

Some think Democrats fighting a controversial labor bill are trying to drag out the debate until then so protests about the issue get maximum publicity.

Teamsters at the Indiana Statehouse on Thursday wore shirts with Super Bowl XLVI circled and crossed out. And a familiar chant this week from union supporters was “Occupy Super Bowl.”

Fears of picket lines, manufactured traffic snarls and other protests are floating around the building. NFL Players Association Executive Director Demaurice Smith said in a national interview this week that players could participate in protests if it helps raise the level of the debate.

GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma said it’s unfortunate that the threats against the Super Bowl are getting specific and real.

“One of the things that’s concerned me about the entire atmosphere that has been created here is it’s an atmosphere of threat and intimidation,” he said. “It’s not the best place to try to make law, but we won’t be intimidated out of doing what people think is right.”

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said it would be a shame for Democrats to allow their supporters “to interfere with the biggest event that’s ever hit Indianapolis or the state of Indiana.”

Right-to-work is the moniker given to a bill that would prohibit unions and employers from agreeing to contract provisions that would require all employees covered by a contract to pay some sort of union representation fee.

For a third consecutive day, the majority of House Democrats refused to handle bills on the House floor Thursday. They instead worked to draft an amendment to their liking calling for a statewide public vote on the matter.

Long is tiring of the impasse.

The Senate version of right-to-work has been sitting idly on the calendar for a week, but Long said Thursday his chamber – which has enough Republicans to act without Democrats on the floor – will likely start debating amendments early next week.

House Democratic Leader Patrick Bauer said his caucus members would discuss every other bill on the calendar and continue participating in committees if they are given additional time to consider right-to-work.

“These are the bills they have ignored and said they will be sacrificed,” Bauer said while waving a sheaf of paper.

But Long noted the Democrats are a minority and don’t get to pick the agenda or dictate the schedule.

He said repeatedly Democrats are hiding behind political ploys to avoid debating the bill and he was generally disillusioned by the political process this year.

“At a minimum it’s a very sad day. I hope the outrage of the people of Indiana is heard loud and clear,” Long said.

Bauer countered, “supreme court judge Long” has a bill on second reading and “he could move forward in his sanctimonious chamber. I really don’t want to debate him at this point.”

nkelly@jg.net

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