()

A bill that would eliminate a carve-out in the Crimes Code that some say creates a loophole for intimidating activity during labor strife has been amended by the state Senate in a way that alters its original intent, according to a spokesman for the Republican caucus of the state House of Representatives.

Steve Miskin, a spokesman for the caucus, said House GOP members plan to spend the next two weeks, while the General Assembly is out of session, researching the impact of the Senate amendment.

“A lot of our members feel that the amendment may have actually opened an even bigger Pandora’s box,” Miskin said.

The Senate amendment to HB 1154 said that nothing in the legislation is intended to supersede the federal and state constitutional right to free speech. The Senate judiciary committee inserted the language as a “clarifying” amendment.

But Miskin said federal law can’t trump state law when it comes to ending the carve-out, which allows even the threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction and covers both union workers and management.

The bill was introduced in the House in April of last year but received no traction until the February indictment of 10 members of Ironworkers Local 401 on federal racketeering charges. The federal indictment described how “goon squads” set fires, started riots and took crowbars to the competition in an effort to protect union jobs.

The sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Ron Miller, R-York, said a 2012 U.S. Chamber of Commerce study, “Sabotage, Stalking and Stealth Exemptions: Special State Law for Labor Unions,” alerted him to the carve-out in the Crimes Code.