The Latest from Wisconsin, Ohio, Tennessee, and Indiana
posted by: Alix | March 09, 2011, 05:13 PM   

The battle over state budgets and union power rages on as Wisconsin, Ohio, Tennessee, and Indiana lawmakers are in various stages of passing landmark legislation. Despite lingering protests, weeks of media coverage, attempted filibusters and walk-outs, experts are speculating that we could see concessions from both sides beginning this week.

This week, emails between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and AWOL Democrats have surfaced in the media causing a firestorm of controversy. The exchange has left many wondering whether or not the budget repair bill will move forward as is, or if Governor Walker is cracking after three solid weeks of protests. The emails, some dated as recently as Sunday, showcase a more lenient stance in Walker's exchange with the Democrats who fled to Illinois to block a vote on his original proposal.

Under the compromise proposed by Governor Walker's office, workers would be able to continue bargaining over salaries without a cap, but would not budge on provisions to block forced unionism.

"Everybody's obviously receiving a lot of pressure," said Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. "I had people on my front porch before I left this morning." Fitzgerald did acknowledge the pressure being imposed on Republicans but made clear that they remained united in their support for the bill as is.

In Ohio, Governor Kasich delivered his State of the State speech with union members protesting just steps away from his post. He indicated his union hammering legislation was just the beginning of sweeping changes for the state. Unfazed by the media attention and protestors, Governor Kasich stated, "If you've seen a lot of change in these first seven weeks, you ain't seen nothing yet,'' as the crowd erupted, some in cheers, others in boos.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, Governor Bill Haslam's proposal to make teacher tenure more difficult has gained the support of key members of the state's business community despite union protests. The plan has been endorsed by the chambers of commerce in the state's four largest cities. The full Senate is scheduled to vote on its version of the bill on Thursday.

In Indiana, a major union protest is scheduled for Thursday and Friday as the session comes to a halt due to a prescheduled college basketball game. Indiana House Minority Leader Pat Bauer says some members of his caucus may return to the Statehouse Thursday to attend the major union rally, despite their absence during session preventing legislative progress.

Now that union battles are well into the third week of protests, many are wondering whether these bills will pass as they are or if major concessions are imminent. With each passing day, other states are adopting similar legislation as a major national dialogue has begun regarding unions and taxpayers.

Check in to the AAE media schedule for continued coverage.

What do you think of these protests and tactics? Are concessions the only way to resolve the situation?
Comment below.



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