Legislature and State Government and Politics and Government & Economic Development and Government and Labor

Indiana House Dems resume right-to-work boycott

January 24, 2012

House Republicans levied more fines Tuesday against Democrats who are boycotting GOP-backed legislation that would bar labor unions from collecting mandatory fees from workers.

Most of the House's 40 Democrats skipped the afternoon session for the eighth day since they began their 2012 session. Democrats have stayed off the House floor to prevent a 67-member quorum needed to conduct business, thus delaying debate on the right-to-work legislation being pushed by Republicans.

GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma said he hadn't heard from Democratic House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer since Monday evening.

Bosma said that if he could get a few more Democrats to split from the caucus, he would meet the quorum needed to conduct business. But he said he isn't lobbying Democrats to return to the floor and is "still counting on people to wake up."

Republicans voted to fine the 35 absent Democrats another $1,000 each, bringing the total for most Democrats to $4,000 each. The new state law allowing the fines was approved after Democrats boycotted the same legislation last year. However, a judge has temporary blocked the collection of those fines while a lawsuit challenging the law plays out.

Five Democrats split with the caucus early in the 2012 session, showing up to the floor routinely for sessions. They said they opposed the right-to-work bill but didn't agree with the stall tactics.

More Democrats could return to work Wednesday, Bauer said. Though he did not say specifically what it would take for them to return.

"Who knows what ill wind will blow between now and then," Bauer said.

The Republicans want to make Indiana the 23rd state to bar unions from collecting mandatory representation fees.

The measure passed the Senate Monday. But Democrats walked off the House floor Monday after losing a series of bruising party-line votes in an effort to change the measure.

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