New Indiana Statehouse Rules Limit Right-to-Work Protests

Indiana state officials have announced that the state will limit the number of people allowed in the statehouse. The announcement, made less than one week before the start of a legislative session where state lawmakers are expected to take up the so-called “right-to-work” bill, would limit the number of protestors allowed in the building at any given time.

State officials say no more than 3,000 people can be inside the building. That number includes the 1,700 employees who work there.

The so-called “right-to-work” bill, which Gov. Mitch Daniels and the Republican-controlled legislature have already signaled would be their No. 1 priority this legislative session, drew thousands of protestors to the statehouse when it was first introduced last year. As many as 10,000 protestors were counted the day after the bill came up.

“It now appears the governor will do anything to silence the thousands of Hoosiers who oppose this plan, including abandoning concepts of free speech and assembly that are the founding principles of government,” said House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer in a statement. “The people’s statehouse is no more.”

A new study by the Economic Policy Institute examines Gov. Daniels’ claims that the “right-to-work” law will raise wages and create jobs in Indiana. The study, entitled Working hard to make Indiana look bad: The tortured, uphill case for ‘right-to-work,’ explains why the law would actually be more likely to reduce workers’ wages by $1,500 a year for both union and nonunion workers, and lower the likelihood that union and non-union employees get health care coverage or pensions through their jobs. The study also finds that so-called “right-to-work” laws have no impact on job growth in states that adopt them.

The calculated move to cap statehouse capacity is the first in the state’s history. The 3,000-person cap covers only the actual building. The outside areas are not included, though officials have designated the south lawn as the primary area of assembly.