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January 8, 2012

01/09/12 We begin the 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly at a crossroads for our state.

The first seven years of the current administration has seen a substantial increase in the numbers of Hoosiers who are unemployed and given up hope of looking for a job. Hoosiers now earn only 86 cents for every dollar earned by the average American, a drop from what they earned when this governor took office.

Finding good-paying jobs for Hoosiers must be the top priority for legislators in this short session of the Legislature. There is no greater emergency facing our state.

Yet powerful special interests are using this emergency to force passage of a plan that has been proven to offer few jobs at lower wages in unsafe workplaces. This plan has been falsely labeled “right to work,” but it is more accurately anti-jobs and anti-paychecks. It is better named “right to work for less.”

There is plenty of evidence that shows the flaws of this proposal. It has been proven to lower the paychecks of working families in other states by as much as $5,000 per year. It has not created new jobs. National statistics show that workplaces are more dangerous when these policies are in place.

Why are all these things true? Because this policy is designed to ignore the needs and rights of workers in order to boost the bottom line of corporations and their shareholders.

To these big business types, things that are critical to workers and their families – a good wage, health insurance and other benefits – mean nothing compared to a healthy bottom line. Eliminating worker rights is a good way to achieve that sorry goal.

Last summer, a legislative committee studied this issue. Any objective observer of those hearings would have noted that “right to work for less” did not put people back to work, since seven of the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates have this policy in place. “Right to work for less” states have higher rates of on-the-job deaths and higher poverty levels.

These things mean nothing to the special interests that want this law. Their desire to pass this radical plan has been so great that the administration wanted to restrict the public’s access to the Indiana Statehouse, so workers from across this state would have had less of a chance to personally ask their lawmakers to say no to “right to work for less.”

Luckily, the governor saw the error of his ways and rescinded the policy after the people of Indiana raised an uproar. But his decision to come to his senses should not allow us to forget the terrible idea that spawned this mess. It remains alive and kicking.

On its own merits, “right to work for less” deserves to be defeated. There is another way to create jobs that pay good wages. It is the Indiana House Democrat plan called “Helping Hoosiers Now.”

This plan will create jobs by supporting small businesses and getting the unemployed back to work. It will make Indiana a good place to do business by running government more efficiently, including tax cuts for Hoosier families, economic development reform, and safeguards for the use of taxpayer money. It also aims to improve education, so we can improve our workforce and our economic development efforts.

In the 2012 session, there will be a choice for Hoosiers. One path leads to support for job creation, support for small businesses and economic innovation. The other path leads to lower wages and smaller paychecks.

I hope we choose the right path. Our state’s future depends on it.

Throughout the 2012 session, here are the best ways to contact me about the issues I’ve discussed here, as well as any other comments or concerns you have:

Call the toll-free Statehouse telephone number of 1-800-382-9842;

Write to me in care of the Indiana House of Representatives, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204; or

E-mail me at