January 15, 2014

 

Today, Senate Pensions and Labor Committee heard SB 178 authored by Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City), a bill to criminalize certain communication between employers and 3rd parties; and most especially labor organizations.

 

Sen. Banks indicated that this bill was an identical bill that had recently passed in the state of Virginia and was prepared by him in response to his personal interest in protecting the privacy of employee information over all other considerations and his perceived notion thatcoercion” occurs with employees by unions.

 

Gratefully, Sen. Boots (R-Crawfordsville), the committee chairperson, encouraged and allowed an in-depth debate on this bill.

 

Most of the debate centered on legislators and witnesses suggesting examples of how routine, course-of-business communications between an employer and a 3rd party might end up becoming the subject of criminal prosecution.

 

Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage)—a lawyer herself—took the lead in questioning how this very broadly-drafted bill could possibly work in the real world. Just about every member of the committee offered up his/her own theoretical situation to ponder.

 

Several labor organizations, including ISTA, testified against this bill. Additionally, individuals representing banks and credit unions testified with concerns as did a representative from IU Health.

 

At the conclusion of the testimony, Sen. Boots indicated that no vote would be taken on this bill today and offered Sen. Banks the opportunity to continue working on it. Sen. Banks indicated that he would and hinted that this work could occur over the summer to be brought back next session.

 

Stay tuned.