Public issue or political fundraiser?

Maybe you missed the huge union rally at the state Capitol Tuesday.

More than 1,000 union members and supporters gathered inside and outside the building to protest a "paycheck protection" proposal that would ban governments from deducting union dues from public paychecks.

The reasoning is government services paid for with tax dollars should not be used to aid union ends -- including funding organized-labor political PACs -- by providing automatic payroll deductions.

It's a suddenly-hot issue in PA pushed by conservative state lawmakers and supported by Gov. Corbett whose office says he'd sign such a bill.

I always wonder about the timing of such issues. Why now?

There are bills in the state House and Senate, each called the Public Employee Relations Act. But Senate Bill 1034, sponsored by Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair County, was introduced last July and House Bill 1507, sponsored by Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster County, was introduced last June.

There's no action scheduled on either. And legislative leaders show no signs of moving these bills.

But it IS an election year for governor, all the House and half the Senate.

And there are no better fundraising tools than red-meat issues that get both sides riled up.

This one suggests (a) here's a way to get back at unions for creating pension-cost problems, stopping the sale of State Stores and generally preventing progress of the GOP agenda or (b) here's a clear and present danger to the future and viability of unions.

So I'm thinking maybe next comes a big push to raise money for campaigns, unions, conservative PACS and candidates on both sides -- even though in a still-strong union state it's hard to see the governor or legislative leaders championing anything viewed as anti-labor during an election year.

But it's a great time to fundraise: give now and we can elect folks to pass this thing; give now and we can elect folks to stop this thing.