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Public employee union bills stall in Arizona Senate

Phoenix resident Jay Baker and his 4-year-old son Henry Baker protest bills aimed at weakening public sector unions on the Capitol lawn Feb. 9. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Several Republican-sponsored bills targeting government employee unions appear stalled in the Arizona Senate, a week after one such measure was approved.

The Senate was scheduled to consider a measure Thursday that would bar using tax dollars to pay for workers’ union activities, but the sponsor said he asked that its consideration be postponed.

Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Peoria, acknowledged that the bill was “polarizing” but said it and others remain alive. He said he hasn’t had time to work on possible changes to ensure that the bill has enough support for passage.

Mike Colletto, a lobbyist for a firefighters union, said lawmakers have been barraged with union members’ complaints about the bills and Thursday’s postponement was due simply to a lack of votes for the bill.

Two other Murphy bills that have yet to be scheduled for consideration by the full Senate also lack the necessary votes, Colletto said.

One of those would ban collective bargaining with public employee unions. The second would bar using government workers’ paychecks to collect union dues.

The Senate last week approved a fourth bill sponsored by another Republican senator that would bar paycheck withholding for unions and other entities without annual reauthorizations by the workers. The measure has been sent to the House.

Murphy and other supporters of the bills said they would save tax dollars. Opponents contend they are intended to generally weaken unions.

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