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Democrats skip session while leader discusses fines

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The calm return of boycotting Democrats to the Indiana House was rattled a bit Thursday by a long delay in a scheduled floor session while party leaders talked in private about fines over the walkout and other complications.

Democratic legislators were at their desks on the House floor Thursday afternoon and Minority Leader Patrick Bauer said another walkout wasn't planned.

House members worked late into the night on Tuesday and Wednesday to debate and pass numerous bills that were stalled until most Democrats returned Monday after spending five weeks in Urbana, Ill., in protest of several labor- and education-related proposals, leaving the House with too few members to conduct official business.

Bauer said Democratic members were focused on legislative business.

"We want to continue this process — and we will," he told reporters.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma and Bauer met for more than an hour in Bosma's office after the House session was scheduled to start and Bauer then met with Democratic legislators.

The leaders talked about the fines imposed by Republicans that topped $3,000 for most of the Democrats.

Bosma said afterward that the only way the fines could be waived or lowered would be by a vote of the full House, which would need at least 11 of the 60 Republicans to agree to a modification.

"I cannot see that happening," Bosma said.

Republicans imposed $250-a-day fines against the absent Democrats two weeks into the boycott and increased it to $350 for the final week.

Bauer said he was willing to pay the fines, but wanted to make sure they were proper.

"We understand when you take a stand for your values and take a stand for people that are being shoved down to minimum wage, there's a price to pay," he said. "If that's a part of it, so be it."

How those fines will be collected is still being worked out.

"Even the IRS offers a payment plan," Bosma said. "We'll be sure that it's paid in a reasonable fashion that allows families to function."

Democrats didn't object Thursday to a move by Republicans to extend by a week the deadline for voting on Senate-passed bills until April 21 — leaving one week for final action before the Legislature's April 29 deadline.

Bauer, however, said Democrats were concerned about the lack of public testimony being allowed on many bills in committees that were relying on testimony heard at unofficial meetings during the boycott.

"You didn't have the full committee there and many people might not have come because he announced, in fact, that it was an informal hearing," he said.

Bosma said it would be up to committee chairmen to decide whether to hear more testimony on bills, but that he expected many wouldn't do so. He said the committee meetings were available on the Internet so Democrats could have watched testimony.

"We didn't know when the Democrats were returning," Bosma said. "That could have been all the public testimony that was available until April 27 for all we knew at that point."

Bosma said he trusted that Democrats would remain for rest of the legislative session and that Thursday's delays didn't shake that belief.

"Folks need time to talk around here," he said. "It was appropriate. I wasn't upset about it at all."

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  • Agreed!
    I agree!

    The "people" are not the general public. Most were union members or sympathizers, many of whom were brought here and don't even live in Indiana! Much like Wisconsin, where a huge number of protesters were obviously spoiled liberal college kids who will go on to professions in which unions aren't relevant.

    By the way, Mr Bauer, nobody is being "driven down to minimum wage".
  • Dem Walkout
    Just who are these "people" who supported the Democrat walkout? We're taking public employees and union sympathizers, not the general public.
  • Brainwashed
    Anyone who can honestly support the Dems for what they did certainly doesn't believe in the system of Government we have. I agree with the post about the current President setting the example for dirty politics! He has grown up in a corrupt system and will do whatever is needed to get the outcome he sees fit. Next time vote for those who stay and do their job win, lose or draw. The Dems really showed true colors for the past month.
  • Be for real!
    But here is the thing guys! None of these Republicans, that were elected to office, ran on the platform to do the things that they did. Am I happy that nothings been done for 5 weeks, no of course not. But I am glad that the Democrats stopped the Republicans from pushing through a bill that we didn't vote on. So while the majority of people may have voted Republican this year nobody voted to end collective bargaining and all the other things the "super republican" majority is now undertaking. If they ran on those issues and still were elected then the Democrats would be wrong for what they did.
  • Agree with you
    I agree with everything you said here. Those are my feelings as well.
    Ann
  • education funding
    If you knew what you were talking about, you would know that Mitch Daniels increased the funding for education over the past several years.
  • Stood Their Ground?
    The House Democrats didn't stand their ground. They abandoned their posts when they couldn't get their way. Well, they and their supporters that refuse to participate in Indiana's representative form of government are certainly invited to leave the state, and stay out!
  • Pathetic
    I do not support the Dems for what they did. When they were in power, they did what they thought best and the Reps had to go along with them. When they were voted out of power...they still wanted the power and walked out thus comtrolling the situation even though they were the minority. Grow up. You can't have it both ways! But they have a president that has taught them dirty politics so what could one expect?
  • Democrats Were Right
    I back the Democrats for walking out. I stand to agree that they had every right to leave. We need to keep funding our Schools if they had the approiate funding they could hire the right amount of teachers and our Schools could be GOOD and Better!!!! But since the Republicans took away alot of funding for our Schools we had to close Schools and Teachers lost there jobs and now we have 30 children per class and thats why they dont get the right Education!!!! And we dont need Private Schools!!!! The Republicans need to put the money back into our regular schools and they would get the right Education!!!! And stop messing with jobs... Its not all Democrats fault its alot of the Republicans who are messing things up. Take a look at what ur doing to our United States and our Schools and Jobs there Republicans!!!!!
    • Sort of got it right.
      You are right that the Democrats in the house were elected. However, there is a Republican majority that was ALSO elected. This a Representative Republic NOT a Democracy. When your side is out numbered by the other side that means that you DID NOT win the election. Sorry Dems, the Republicans know why they were elected and it was to cut spending and make the government smaller. Dems, stay in your seats and VOTE HOW YOUR CONSTITUENTS WANT YOU TO VOTE! Even if that means you don't get things your way. That's the way a Republic works.
    • obligated to work
      I totally agree that we are paying their salaries and we all
      know what would happen to our jobs if we just didn't come
      to work! Why are they any different? They got paid, and now
      want to contest the fines.
      This is wrong in every way.
    • Stop the madness
      I thank the Dems for standing up for those of us who voted for them. The Republicans in this state just push through their pet bills without remembering that they do not represent everyone in this state. I appreciate our Democrat leaders for protecting my rights to representation.
      • walk out
        I am an independent republican, running for mayor in 2011 and feel that as elected officials we are bound by the people to represent them by what ever purpose possible. had they not walked out a stalemate could of happened now lets bond together and get back to work.And no i was not for the walk out.Reed for Mayor 2011
      • Junkkit
        They should never have been allowed to not show up for work. Since they are employed by the taxpayer, a law should be in place that they must show up for work or be terminated. They should not receive any pay for not being at work and I hope the penalties are informed for their bad work ethics.
        • Should be gone
          Everyone i know gets fired after 3 days of no show. Bauer has made a career of sitting on bills and letting them die so he wont have to deal with them. He is worthless. The fines should be $30,000 not 3,000. Remember his inactiveness next election and ship him & the rest of the democrats out of office
        • Really?
          Really? What do you think the walk-out accomplished? I don't agree with everything in the bill to be passed that has to do with education, but that's not the point. Those legislators were elected by the people, the very people they are supposed to represent. More of a reason to stay in session and prove their points instead of the "I'm going to take my ball and go home" approach. Do your job and not take a vacation. I hope the taxpayers money didn't pay for their retreat. Stand up for what you think is right, what ever that may be and not stick your tail between your legs and stick you head in the sand. That, in the end, will accomplish nothing.
        • proud
          So proud of the democrats for following the law concerning protecting the nrights of nthe minority and the use nof proper Parliamentary Procedure to stifle the arrogance of the majority, cannot wait for election time when people see that we are sickmo of the arrogance/
        • Democrats Were Right
          They were right in walking out when they did! They stood ground for something they believed in and the public beleived in. But they were wrong in holding out that long! They should pay the fines out of their pockets. But it will be the Demo Party that dishes out the money.
        • Fines
          The amounts and appropriateness of the fines could wait. To me this just shows the legislators are more concerned about their pocketbooks than doing the states business. Bad move on the part of the democrats.
        • Loser's!
          They should be made to give up any paychecks that they received while they were off as well for depriving their constituents of representation!

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