Repub­li­cans to tar­get unions, ex­pand state’s school choice

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Repub­li­cans are poised to use their newly at­tained capi­tol dom­i­nance to make Mis­souri the 27th right-to-work state pro­hibit­ing manda­tory union fees. That is un­less Ken­tucky’s re­cently crowned GOP ma­jori­ties can beat them to it. The race to ex­pand right-to-work laws is just one of sev­eral ways that Repub­li­cans, who strength­ened their grip on power in the Novem­ber elec­tions, are pre­par­ing to re­shape state laws af­fect­ing work­places, class­rooms, court­rooms and more dur­ing 2017.

As Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump leads an at­tempted makeover in Wash­ing­ton, Repub­li­can gover­nors and state law­mak­ers will be si­mul­ta­ne­ously push­ing an ag­gres­sive agenda that lim­its abor­tion, law­suits and unions, cuts busi­ness taxes and reg­u­la­tions, and ex­pands gun rights and school choice. Repub­li­cans will hold 33 gover­nors’ of­fices, have ma­jori­ties in 33 leg­is­la­tures and con­trol both the gov­er­nor’s of­fice and leg­is­la­ture in 25 states - their most since 1952. Democrats will con­trol both the gov­er­nor’s of­fice and leg­is­la­ture in only about a half-dozen states; the rest will have po­lit­i­cally di­vided gov­ern­ments.

“Re­ally, the sky’s kind of the limit,” said Sean Lans­ing, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at Amer­i­cans for Prosperity, the con­ser­va­tive group bankrolled partly by bil­lion­aire in­dus­tri­al­ists Charles and David

Koch. “It’s re­ally the best op­por­tu­nity in quite some time to ac­com­plish a lot of big ticket items - not just in one or two states, but in five, 10 or 15.” Democrats did make some gains in the re­cent elec­tions, most notably by de­feat­ing Repub­li­can North Carolina Gov Pat McCrory and win­ning both cham­bers of the Ne­vada and New Mex­ico leg­is­la­tures. But in all three of those states, Repub­li­cans still con­trol at least one branch of govern­ment.

Re­signed to get steam­rolled

While of­fi­cials in Demo­cratic strongholds such as Cal­i­for­nia and New York pledge a vig­or­ous fight against Trump’s agenda, some Democrats else­where seem re­signed to get steam­rolled on poli­cies they long have op­posed, such as right-to-work laws that un­der­cut the fi­nan­cial strength of unions, a tra­di­tional Demo­cratic ally.

In Mis­souri, term-lim­ited Demo­cratic Gov Jay Nixon pre­vi­ously ve­toed a right-to-work mea­sure passed by the Repub­li­can-led Leg­is­la­ture. But he’s be­ing re­placed Jan. 9 by Repub­li­can Gov.-elect Eric Gre­it­ens, who promised to sign a right-to-work law. GOP leg­isla­tive lead­ers have placed it atop their agenda. And their ranks are strength­ened fol­low­ing a cam­paign sea­son in which busi­ness­man David Humphreys poured more than $12 mil­lion into Mis­souri can­di­dates and po­lit­i­cal com­mit­tees that backed right-to-work. “Oh, it’s go­ing to hap­pen,” said Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Gina Walsh, a re­tired union la­borer who is pres­i­dent of the Mis­souri State Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Trades Coun­cil. She added: “I’m not will­ing to lay down on it yet, but I’m also a re­al­ist.”

As­sum­ing right-to-work will be­come law, Mis­souri AFLCIO Pres­i­dent Mike Louis al­ready is pre­par­ing for the next bat­tle. He has filed sev­eral ver­sions of a pro­posed ini­tia­tive pe­ti­tion that would ask vot­ers in 2018 to ap­prove a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment re­vers­ing right-to-work by en­sur­ing that unions can ne­go­ti­ate con­tracts re­quir­ing that em­ploy­ees pay fees for their rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Repub­li­can Ken­tucky Gov Matt Bevin also hopes to sign a statewide right-to-work law in 2017, now that Repub­li­cans who al­ready hold the Se­nate also have won con­trol of the House for the first time in nearly a cen­tury. A dozen Ken­tucky coun­ties al­ready have passed lo­cal rightto-work laws. Right-to-work sup­port­ers also are tar­get­ing New Hamp­shire, where Repub­li­can Gov.-elect Chris Su­nunu will be paired with a GOP-led Leg­is­la­ture. And col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing restric­tions for public em­ploy­ees could be on the agenda in Iowa, where the Repub­li­can gov­er­nor will work with a Leg­is­la­ture that will be un­der full GOP con­trol when law­mak­ers re­con­vene in Jan­uary. — AP

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