(TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ) — Florida Senate Bill 256, one of at least four bills around the country in various stages of development intended to rein in out-of-control government employee unions, on Thursday emerged virtually unscathed following a second hearing on the state Senate floor.
Authored by Republican Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, the so-called “Paycheck Protection Bill” would:
- prevent the state from deducting dues on behalf of unions from public employees’ paychecks, forcing unions to do their own billing and collections;
- require audits of unions representing public employees;
- require union membership cards to include wording echoing the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which recognized the right of public employees to decline union membership, due and fees with no loss of representation or benefits; and,
- close the legal loopholes unions use to prevent members from voting to decertify them.
House Bill 1445, a companion bill sponsored by Rep. Dean Black, was approved last year by the Florida House of Representatives.
During Thursday’s contentious hearing, opponents of the bill were especially critical of the provision requiring unions to conduct regular audits and make their financials available to members.
Such a requirement, they argue, would be prohibitively expensive.
“What they neglect to mention is that audits are already mandatory for any union with at least one private-sector employee,” said Rusty Brown, southern director for the Freedom Foundation, a national government employee union watchdog. “This bill merely holds public-sector unions to the same transparency standards their private-sector counterparts already live up to. This transparency ensures that all members and prospective members know how their dues money is being spent.”
Like-minded bills are working their way through the Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma state legislatures.
SB-256 will head back to the senate floor for a final hearing, and with GOP supermajorities in both houses, the measure is expected to show up soon on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk for approval.