Union Station: Legislation update: What’s happened with public-sector union bills so far this year?

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Legislation update: What’s happened with public-sector union bills so far this year?

This week, we’re looking back at legislative activity for the public-sector union bills we’ve tracked in the first seven months of 2022. We’ll also compare that activity to the same period in 2019, 2020, and 2021.   

Highlights & quick facts 

  • Ten bills related to public-sector unions have been enacted so far this year. Democrats sponsored six, and Republicans sponsored three. The remaining bill was an appropriations bill introduced by committee.
  • We’ve tracked more bills related to public-sector union policy this year than any of the last three years. 
  • Legislators in Maryland have considered 13 public-sector union bills so far this year, followed by California and Minnesota tied with 12. Maryland legislators considered the most public-sector union bills in the first half of the year in 2020, 2021, and 2022. In 2019, it was Oregon. 
  • Washington is the only state that has passed a public-sector union bill by July of each year from 2019 to 2022. 
  • The Maryland General Assembly overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) vetoes of two public-sector union bills this year. 

Enacted legislation

The following 10 bills have been signed into law so far this year: 

  • Arizona SB1166: Prohibits public employers from spending public money on a union’s political or lobbying activities. Prohibits public employers from contracting with a public employee to perform a union’s political or lobbying activities, and prohibits public employers from providing paid leave or other compensation to employees performing a union’s political or lobbying activities. There is an exception for law enforcement and firefighters. Republican sponsorship
  • California SB189: This appropriations bill includes an ongoing proposal for the creation of a tax credit for union dues. Introduced by Democratic-led committee
  • Colorado SB230: Gives certain county employees the right to organize and bargain collectively beginning in 2023. Democratic sponsorship.
  • Indiana SB0297: Amends the language of the authorization form school employees must sign before union dues may be deducted from their pay. Republican sponsorship.
  • Maine LD449: Existing law required public employers and collective bargaining agents to meet within 10 days of receiving written notice of a request for a bargaining meeting. This only applied if the parties had not otherwise agreed in an earlier contract. This bill eliminates that exception. Democratic sponsorship.
  • Maryland HB90: Extends collective bargaining rights to the deputy public defender, district public defenders, and assistant public defenders. Democratic sponsorship.
  • Maryland HB580: Extends collective bargaining rights to Maryland Transit Administration Police sergeants and supervisors. Democratic sponsorship.
  • New Jersey S3810: Expands the terms and conditions negotiable between government employers and public-sector unions to those that “intimately and directly affect employee work and welfare,” with certain exceptions. It also allows a public-sector union to charge a non-dues-paying employee for the cost of representation in arbitration proceedings, and to decline to represent those who do not agree to pay. Democratic sponsorship.
  • Oklahoma SB1579: Allows school boards to grant unpaid leaves of absence for employees to hold office in an employee association if certain criteria are met. An employee organization would be required to comply with this law in order to be recognized as the representative of a bargaining unit. Republican sponsorship.    
  • Washington HB2124: Gives state legislative branch employees the right to bargain collectively, creates an office of state legislative labor relations to “[e]xamine issues related to collective bargaining for employees of the house of representatives, the senate, and legislative agencies” and to “develop best practices and options for the legislature to consider in implementing and administering collective bargaining.” A final report is due to the legislature by Oct. 1, 2023. No collective bargaining agreement may take effect until July 1, 2025. Employees are not allowed to strike. Democratic sponsorship.

Comparison to recent years

2022 legislative activity, January through July

In the first seven months of 2022, state legislatures took up 149 public-sector union bills, 10 of which were enacted during that time.

  • Bills introduced or carried over from earlier sessions: 149
    • Democratic sponsored bills: 91
    • Republican sponsored bills: 46
    • Bipartisan or committee bills: 12
  • Bills enacted: 10

2021 legislative activity, January through July

In the first seven months of 2021, state legislatures took up 98 public-sector union bills, 10 of which were enacted during that time.

  • Bills introduced or carried over from earlier sessions: 98
    • Democratic sponsored bills: 44
    • Republican sponsored bills: 44
    • Bipartisan or committee bills: 10
  • Bills enacted: 12

2020 legislative activity, January through July

In the first seven months of 2020, state legislatures took up 99 public-sector union bills, three of which were enacted during that time. 

  • Bills introduced or carried over from earlier sessions: 99
    • Democratic sponsored bills: 52
    • Republican sponsored bills: 34
    • Bipartisan or committee bills: 13
  • Bills enacted: 3

2019 legislative activity, January through July

In the first seven months of 2019, state legislatures took up 101 public-sector union bills, seven of which were enacted during that time.

  • Bills introduced or carried over from earlier sessions: 101
    • Democratic sponsored bills: 51
    • Republican sponsored bills: 38
    • Bipartisan or committee bills: 12
  • Bills enacted: 7 

To view spreadsheets with information about all of the public-sector union bills we’ve tracked since 2018, click here

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 149 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

No public-sector union bills saw activity this week.


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Ballotpedia staff