State senators approved a measure Thursday designed to undermine some of the power of public employee unions.
Current law allows state and local workers as well as public school teachers who are union members to sign up to have their dues deducted automatically from their paychecks. This legislation says deductions can continue -- but only if the union members give their written consent each year. Senate Majority Leader, Republican Andy Biggs said it just makes sense.
"This bill is kind of like renewing a magazine subscription," Biggs said. "What it is is, every year you say, you know, I still want to get that Sunset Magazine. I'll check it off and take care of it."
He said all this does is force union members to make the same annual choice. Senator Steve Gallardo argued that the real purpose is to make it harder for unions to collect money -- money that might wind up being used for political purposes.
Sen. Frank Antenori conceded as much, pointing out that taxpayers are funding the mechanics of the payroll deductions.
"And if you have people that are able to bring large amounts of money and large organizations to bear to influence elected officials or bodies for their benefit at the expense of others, I think we have to seriously consider this," said Antenori. "All this does is level the playing field."
Lawmakers still have to debate at least two other measures aimed at public employee unions, including one that would make collective bargaining illegal.