By January 26, 2016 at 5:53 PMJanuary 26, 2016 at 5:51 PM, updated
A controversial bill banning payroll deductions from government workers paychecks to support political activity won the House State Government Committee’s approval on Tuesday.
The committee amended the Senate-passed bill to eliminate a section it felt was unnecessary before voting 16-9 along party lines to advance the measure. The measure now is positioned to advance to a vote by the full House although it remains unclear at this time when that will happen.
From the committee’s debate on the so-called “paycheck protection” bill, it was clear the GOP-attacking television ads and mailers from union-supported America Works USA, which is allied with the Democratic Governor’s Association, helped fuel the timing of the committee’s consideration of the legislation that had been sitting idle since October.
Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, frequently mentioned those ads that promote Gov. Tom Wolf’s agenda in arguing the need for the bill’s passage to eliminate a “conflict that shouldn’t exist.”
He said it’s “an injustice that taxpayer resources are used to collect money for political purposes to do something” that they might object to. He said if unions want money from their members to support political activity they should get it from them directly and “not use the government as a collection agency.”
Democratic members made it clear they saw the legislation as an unnecessary attack on unions to further a cause promoted by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council and its supporters.
They argued that it is unfair to target unions while allowing payroll deductions to support insurance companies and charitable organizations that also engage in political activity. Besides that, Rep. Mike O’Brien, D-Philadelphia, said the cost to make the electronic transfer of money is de minimis.
Metcalfe said the legislation would apply to any individual or organization “you can dream up” from deducting money from a public employee’s paycheck to support political activity.