Indiana senate committee advances right-to-work bill

INDIANAPOLIS Fri Jan 6, 2012 3:52pm EST

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INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - After nearly six hours of testimony, an Indiana Senate committee on Friday voted to advance to the full Senate a controversial right-to-work bill, which opponents view as an assault on unions.

But in the state House of Representatives, Democrats denied a quorum for a third straight day to block the Republican-backed legislation. Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma failed to bring the House to order when only 64 members showed up -- 67 are needed for a quorum.

Under the proposed right-to-work law, employees at unionized private workplaces would not be required to pay union dues. Supporters say the move would attract jobs to Indiana. Critics call it union busting.

Last year, House Democrats fled the state to neighboring Illinois to avoid voting on a similar right-to-work bill and other legislation they viewed as anti-labor and anti-public education. The bill died, and other bills were altered.

Bosma said he has not made a decision about fining absent Democrats.

If the right-to-work proposal is approved, Indiana would be the first state in the industrial heartland of the United States to adopt such a law. It is in force in 22 other states, mostly in the South and West.

(Writing and reporting by Susan Guyett; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)

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