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GOP leaders consider ways to move on without Dems

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Indiana's Republican leaders are considering ways to continue Statehouse business without the presence of minority House Democrats, who remain in Illinois protesting GOP-backed bills they oppose.

Little changed Tuesday in the partisan standoff, which has stalled House business for more than 15 days. Frustrated Republicans say they won't be bullied into changing their agenda, and Democrats showed no signs of backing down — with one lawmaker vowing to stay in Urbana, Ill., "until hell freezes over" if that's what it takes to get Republicans to give in to the minority party's demands.

The boycott denies the House the quorum it needs to conduct official business, but Republican lawmakers are looking into ways to press on.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said he may start holding budget hearings next week even though the budget bill is caught up in the impasse. Kenley said he'd use the version of the budget that passed out of a House committee as a base to work from — meaning senators wouldn't be considering any of the 149 amendments that might pass should the House if Democrats return. The situation isn't ideal, but it may have to suffice, Kenley said.

"We've got a lot of people that need to come and talk, plus the public needs to have a chance to testify," Kenley said. "We may have to get started."

House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, said he'd prefer for House members to have a bigger voice in the creation of the budget, but understands why the Senate wants to get started.

"If the Democrats are going to be absent without leave here, then eventually the Senate has to go ahead and display some level of maturity," Espich said.

Kenley said he'll make a decision at the end of this week on possible hearings.

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels said it's appropriate for senators to do as much work as they can while House Democrats are away.

"Things could move on a sort of two-track basis," Daniels said. "Those who are here prepared to work could meet and advance things. At some point if the Democrats decide to respect the voters and the process, they can come join."

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said no decision has been made yet on whether his chamber will start working without Democrats. He noted that rules prohibit most official business — such as committee votes on Senate bills — but said House Republicans could informally work on legislation.

"We have discussed wiring around all of this if it continues for too terribly much longer," Bosma said.

House Democrats didn't seem fazed by the prospect of work continuing without them.

"They can't have anything official, so it doesn't really matter," said Craig Fry, D-Mishawaka.

Some Democrats have said this week they'll stay out as long as necessary to get Republicans to make changes to bills they oppose. Fry pointed to an education bill he's against, saying it was unacceptable and he was willing to do whatever it takes to derail it.

"If I have to be in Urbana, Ill., until hell freezes over, that's what it's going to be," Fry said.

House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer said his caucus is focusing on three main bills they oppose and want Republicans to "negotiate," though Republicans have repeatedly said they won't take items off the agenda or cut a backroom deal to bring back Democrats.

Daniels told reporters that it would be a shame if Democrats deny the House the quorum it needs to do business past the scheduled end of the session on April 29. If Democrats stay out past June 30 when the current budget expires, the boycott could force most of state government to shut down.

"I don't know why we hold elections if people aren't going to respect the outcome," Daniels said. "I don't know why people run for office if they're going to pocket the money and walk off the job. I think everybody involved — starting with the people of Indiana — have shown a lot of patience. Our patience, I suppose, has a limit."

Daniels says he'll call special legislative sessions all year if needed to get votes on key proposals.

"If these folks believe we'll be sort of bullied into submission, I would just recommend they not book any summer travel plans and they just be prepared to come back to work someday," Daniels said Tuesday.

Fry noted that special sessions are typically limited to a few core issues — which could help Democrats since they oppose several bills they consider an attack on labor unions and public education. When asked whether he thought a special session this year would be limited, he replied: "For us to participate, it would have to be."

Bosma said there was "no chance" of a special session on only issues Democrats approve.

"That's almost an outrageous statement," Bosma said. "They need to get back here and do the work they were elected to do."

The House will again try to convene Wednesday.

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  • Freezing over or Campaign Time
    Something tells me they will return long before the great freeze, they will be back to campaign. However, it is good to see some other comments raise the question that I have--they took an oath of office to serve and they are abandoning their positions by leaving the state. It's time for the attorney general and state supreme court to get involved and dig into their oath and job duties and get them back here to debate and vote whether they like the outcome or not. Apparently they missed the fact that when they lost the majority it was because the voters told them they wanted a change.
  • Freezing over or Campaign Time
    Something tells me they will return long before the great freeze, they will be back to campaign. However, it is good to see some other comments raise the question that I have--they took an oath of office to serve and they are abandoning their positions by leaving the state. It's time for the attorney general and state supreme court to get involved and dig into their oath and job duties and get them back here to debate and vote whether they like the outcome or not. Apparently they missed the fact that when they lost the majority it was because the voters told them they wanted a change.
  • Residency requirements?
    Maybe there's some provision that would allow the governor to declare the seats current incumbents to be vacant because the current holder is no longer residing in Indiana? Vote the bums out!

    By the way, Hell HAS frozen over, so Mr Fry had best get back to Indy and stay put!

    Overnight low even tonight is in the low 20's... Check out http://wunderground.com, and put "Hell" in the search box. If the dummycrats had gone to Michigan instead of Illinois, they'd have known that.
  • Right on!
    As the wife of an Indianapolis Public School teacher with three kids in Indiana public schools I feel well represented with the democrats in Illinois. They are engaging in a valid politic tactic which means their actions ARE part of the democratic process. In my eyes, they are doing their jobs by staying in Illinois. Right on!
  • Here's your proof
    Indiana, Bob is your future. Enjoy.
  • Arrogance
    It is a shame when the Politician becomes bigger than what he or she was elected for. Represent the people is tough when your motive is very Liberal, not willing to compromise and stop considering what is really best for the Voter. 2011 & 2012 elections will only see more Liberals replaced. Sorry!!! Stay or Come the damage is done. If Hell freezes over, it only be becasue of the cold hearts of the Demos.
  • It gets pretty cold in November
    All good publicity related to a balanced budget and not being bankrupt IN has had during these difficult economic times has evaporated. When IL (including Urbana, IL now HOME to several IN representatives) increased income taxes on individuals and businesses, for a moment I had hope IN might attract a few new businesses (and jobs) and the return of a few Purdue and IU and other IN university grads. Instead, who will come to live, work, and conduct business in IN when our govâ??t can be tied up by bullies not too different than the bullies terrorizing middle school and high school students. Bullies say or act-out â??Do it my way or Iâ??ll get even.â?? I hope the Indiana newspapers on a daily basis run front-page lists of those who are in IL prior to the next election. (And I voted a split ticket as an independent voter prior to the outrageous behavior of these Democrat Representatives.)
  • Simple
    It's a filibuster. You guys LOVE it when the Republicans do it, so what's the difference? It produces exactly the same result and it's not only perfectly legal, it's an accepted practice to keep the majority from over-reaching.

    And it's so amusing when people criticize schools and teaching in a post full of misspellings.
  • WHAT?
    If he stays in IL til "....freezes over" then he would be considered a resident of IL and no longer eligble to be a representative. Wouldn't that be grand. They do need to realize that they have rights, but I think that, in the State of Indiana, bullying is against the law, which is what they are breaking, in more ways than one. It doesn't matter to me that they have "waived" their paychecks, they still need to get back, work, respect the democractic (IRONIC) process and respect the people of Indiana, and the people that voted for them. If we don't show up for work, whether we don't get paid or not, in the private sector, that is considered job abandonment, and we get fired...So, what is good for the people, is good for the politicians!
  • Criminal?
    At what point are these jerks in violation of some law and subject to being thrown out of office? There must be some way to get rid of these stupid Dems who are AWOL.
  • fire them
    They won't come back until the voucher for schools are stopped . The democrats are paid for by the teachers unions who don't want you to have a choice , the schools will loose more funding when this goes through because of the tenured teachers that will vote to keep theirs and don't care about the younger teachers . If they want to get serious about their budgets they will force all illegals out of the schools . School administrations let illegals in because it is another head to count for federal and state funding , even though their parents pay no taxes for their kids to go . It is coming back to bite them and unfortunatley it will only effect younger and probably more talented teachers and administrators . We can't afford this madness anymore !!!

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