Sen. Dave Schatz’s Weekly Column for March 3

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I believe no one should be required to pay for political activity that they disagree with. I understand the need for union dues for public employee unions, but it is flat wrong to make union members contribute to political action committees that support causes and candidates they disagree with. Imagine if you had to contribute to pro-choice, anti-life causes or pro-tax causes you disagreed with. It’s just wrong, and that’s why I support paycheck protection for public employees.

Debate on paycheck protection, filed as House Bill 1891, started just after 4 p.m., and lasted until about 11:30 p.m., on Tuesday evening. The final vote was 23 to 7 — enough to override a potential veto.

I want to be clear: this bill deals only with public employees and public employee unions. Private sector unions are not included in this legislation.

Paycheck protection is pretty simple. The public employee union must get the union member and public employee’s permission to collect fees for the union’s political action committee. This permission can be in written or electronic form. That’s it.

Many public employees are not members of unions but for those who are, this bill restores some freedom of choice and freedom of speech. Public employees who are part of a collective bargaining union, like those at the Fulton State Hospital for example, will be able to keep more of their paycheck if they do not want to contribute to their union’s political action committee. If they are fine with contributing, then they simply give their permission and nothing changes.

Labor issues tied up the senate last year and halted progress in the Capitol. I am glad we were able to have an open debate in this topic and move this important legislation forward without bringing our work to a complete halt.

Thank you for reading this weekly column. Please contact my office at (573) 751-3678 if you have any questions.