Maryland lawmakers agreed this week to require public school teachers to pay union fees – a move that bolsters the state’s connection to organized labor as others move toward a right-to-work status.

The bill passed Thursday in the General Assembly and is headed to the desk of Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley for signing after Monday, the final day of Maryland’s 2013 legislative session.

The bill is also part of a larger progressive agenda put fourth this year by leaders of the Democrat-controlled Assembly that includes the approval of tax increases and one of the toughest gun-control proposals in the country.

State Sen. David Brinkley calls the fees a “forced tax” and disagrees with union claims that representation will benefit every teacher.

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