Last Friday morning at 6:04 a.m. the House Labor committee passed HSB 117. Debate began the previous day at 5:00 p.m. after already having met for two hours earlier in the day. Democrats offered over fifty amendments, which resulted in the debate on the bill taking over fourteen hours.
HSB 117 is the collective bargaining reform bill that seeks to restore the balance in bargaining between the taxpayer and the public unions. Republicans amended the bill to strip out some portions that would have required legislative approval of agreements that had been decided by an arbitrator as well as a provision that would have allowed the Public Employment Relations Board to charge fees for its services. Democrats attempted to amend the bill in a number of ways, but none of the amendments were adopted by the committee.
HSB 117 still contains provisions that allow for free agent employees, allow an arbitrator to choose between the two final offers of opposing parties, and excludes insurance and procedures for staff reduction from the scope of negotiations that the state and unions bargain over.
As the bill moves to the House floor, a public hearing has also been scheduled for Monday evening, March 7 at 6:00 p.m. The two hour hearing will hear from both supporters and those in opposition to the bill. Those wishing to speak at the hearing may sign up through the Legislative Information Office at (515) 281-5129.