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Indiana Republicans Won't Revive Anti-Union Bill

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Union members from throughout Indiana protest several anti-labor bills outside the Senate chambers at the Indiana Statehouse, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, in Indianapolis. (AP)

Indiana Republican leaders on Wednesday agreed not to revive an anti-union bill that House Democrats killed by fleeing the state to Illinois, where Wisconsin Senate Democrats are also camped out in protest of similar legislation.

The so-called right-to-work legislation, which has also sparked massive protests at the statehouse, would have curbed the collective bargaining rights of private unions in Indiana by prohibiting union representation fees from being a condition of employment. But the absence of House Democrats caused the bill to miss a procedural deadline on Tuesday for consideration.

Even though Republicans could have revived the bill, state Senate leader David Long said Wednesday that he, Gov. Mitch Daniels and House Speaker Brian Bosma agreed to leave it alone, giving the labor movement a key victory in the ongoing battles between state governments and unions across the nation.

"I thought there was a better time and place to have this very important and legitimate issue raised," Daniels said.

Although Bosma had signaled Tuesday that he wouldn't let Daniels' position deter him from reviving the bill, he apparently had a change of heart on Wednesday.

But Republican leaders left the door open for the resurrection of the bill in the future.

Long is going to suggest a study of the policy to find out if "it's some kind of magnet for jobs or union-busting," spokesman Scott Minier told FoxNews.com, adding that Long believes all sides should welcome a review to determine whether it can help the state economy.

Tory Flynn, a spokesman for Bosma, told FoxNews.com that although the speaker has no plans to revive the bill, he can't prevent another member from filing similar legislation.

The labor victory wasn't enough to bring the Democrats out of hiding. House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer told reporters by phone from Illinois that he's ready to talk with Republicans and he'll consider bringing back his caucus from Urbana, Ill., on a day-to-day basis. They want Republicans to cave to their demands not to consider other pending bills that concern them, including ones that cover charter school expansion, schools vouchers and unemployment insurance.

"We will remain here until we get assurances from the governor and House Speaker Brian Bosma that these bills will not be called down in the House at any time this session," the Democrats said in a statement issued Tuesday night. 

But Bosma says he won't negotiate with absent lawmakers.