Paycheck protection bill fails in House

Paycheck protection bill fails in House

Author: Jason Gottesman/Tuesday, December 12, 2017/Categories: News and Views

Senate Bill 166, legislation sponsored by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair) that would disallow the automatic collection of political action committee money from a unionized public employee’s paycheck, but allow the automatic collection of dues money potentially earmarked for political advocacy purposes, failed to gain a majority vote in the House of Representatives in a Tuesday night vote.


The bill failed by a vote of 90 votes in favor to 102 opposed.


The failure to get majority approval of the legislation means that the bill is, in effect, defeated, though similar legislation remains in the legislative pipeline. 

Despite that, a motion was made to reconsider the vote on Senate Bill 166, which does technically procedurally keep the legislation alive.


Lawmakers voting to oppose the legislation Tuesday said they were doing so since it is anti-union, but also, more importantly, anti-police and firefighter—two unions not exempted from the legislation despite their inability to go on strike.


“What this bill really is, is an attack on working families in Pennsylvania, it’s an attack on workers in Pennsylvania. It’s a cynical attempt to silence their voice to help corporate America,” said House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny). “You are taking away all their voices and preventing them from having the ability to step up and participate.”


Supporters noted that the concept behind paycheck protection is overwhelmingly supported by voters and represents a commonsense approach to the issue that does not prohibit the collection of union dues, charitable contributions, and other pass-through paycheck collections.


“This bill does not seek in any way to limit political contributions, said Rep. Paul Schemel (R-Franklin) “Members of unions can contribute all they want to political causes, they just have to make the contributions the way everyone else does, and that’s by making the contributions directly.”


While stating he believes the House changes weakened the bill—the original legislation disallowed the collection of so-called “fair share fees” as well—Sen. Eichelberger said Tuesday that the legislation is still important as a matter of principle.


“I think it’s just a matter of time before, legally, the courts overturn the practice of public sector unions using public resources to collect money,” he said. “I don’t see how anybody thinks that should be a legal practice in America today, so that’s a problem. The polls that have been taken show people don’t support that current practice.”


Regardless of the House vote, while the bill still needed to return to the Senate for final approval before heading to Gov. Tom Wolf, the governor said Tuesday that he would veto so-called paycheck protection legislation should it make it to his desk.


“I’ll veto it because I think it’s unfair to teachers, public sector workers, police officers,” he said. “I think it’s unfair and it takes away a voice they have in the political system.”