Sunday, January 13, 2013

2013 Legislature is Now in Session

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Questionable Questionnaire Question

News Release

Indiana State Teachers Association
150 West Market Street, Suite 900
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2875

Office: 317-263-3400, 800-382-4037
FAX: 317-655-3400, 800-777-6128

The following release was sent to the statewide media earlier today.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Some Legislators Open Session with Questionable Survey Question

Monday, January 7, 2013

Contact: Mark Shoup, 317.263.3369 / Kathleen Berry, 317-263.3321

Some Legislators Open Session with
Questionable Questionnaire Question

INDIANAPOLIS - Just as the 2013 session of the General Assembly is set to open today with hopes of bi-partisan cooperation and meaningful debate on important issues facing the state, Hoosier voters in several legislative districts received a taxpayer-funded survey from some Republican caucus members of the House of Representatives that raised eyebrows and simultaneously lowered expectations that policy over partisanship might just prevail in 2013.

The reason for the new-found skepticism?
One of the questions reads (as if some major issue facing the state):
..."Currently, the teachers' union can automatically deduct fees and dues from teachers' paychecks. In many cases, these dues are used to support candidates or political organizations that a teacher may disagree with. Would you support a law that requires the union to receive authorization from a teacher before it can deduct fees and dues from their paycheck."
It's important for Hoosiers to know the facts: Indiana law already requires all of this.
One could argue that legislators who included this question in their survey should have known this, too.

Indiana law already requires prior written authorization from any educator who voluntarily chooses to automatically deduct from his/her paycheck association dues. (see IC 20-29-5-6) In addition, those deductions must be consistent with other laws that govern all other entities and employers/employees relative to wages. (see IC 22-2-6; IC 22-2-7; IC 20-28-9-18) This practice is not out of the ordinary, but is both a routine and rather perfunctory option granted to employees all across the state: Think health insurance premiums, think retirement contributions, think United Way and a myriad of other not-for-profit/charitable contributions, think professional association dues and fees, think garnishments, on and on.

Teacher union dues are not given nor diverted to political candidates or political campaigns (period). VOLUNTARY political action contributions are distributed through a separate political action committee (in the case of ISTA, the political action committee is called I-PACE) and are governed by a different set of laws.

With all of the major issues facing our state and nation - creating jobs, improving the economy, funding our schools, protecting Hoosier children in the state welfare system, etc... legislators should be sensitive to creating false "policy issues" that take up valuable space in a constituent survey ostensibly designed to foster meaningful exchange. At the very least, legislators who disseminated this question should alert their constituents to the fact that the question's entire set of premises is faulty and that the concerns they raised about teachers, teachers unions, and salary deductions are, in fact, non-issues as they have already been covered under existing Indiana law.

"We still hope that this session will be one focused on cooperation and bipartisanship," said Nate Schnellenberger, ISTA President. "We fully intend to reach out to all legislators as the session unfolds on behalf of Indiana's public school students and the school employees-teachers and educational support professionals-who have dedicated their professional lives to them."