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Indiana House Dem leader hints at another walkout

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The leader of Indiana's House Democrats hinted Wednesday that party lawmakers may walk out for the second year in a row to oppose the same Republican-led right-to-work bill thwarted last year by their five-week boycott.

House Democratic Leader Patrick Bauer said that his caucus plans to meet Wednesday to debate how to handle the GOP proposal that would make Indiana the 23rd state to bar businesses and private unions from mandating that workers pay union fees.

Bauer led the walkout last year with most Democrats abandoning their jobs to flee to Illinois. But new fines and lawmakers concerned about re-election in 2012 have made the group wary of another such ploy. A few hours before the session started, Bauer referenced the U.S. Senate's filibuster as the minority party's best tool for taking on the majority. He said a similar effort in Indiana would require the vast majority of his caucus to act in unison.

"Here, it takes a caucus of at least a substantial minority," he said.

After Democrats walked out last year, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and his Senate counterpart, Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, passed new fines of $1,000 a day on each lawmaker who leaves the Statehouse for more than three days in a row.

The fines were challenged in court, but a Superior Court judge ruled the Indiana General Assembly has the constitutional authority to pass laws or its own internal rules, including how it compels attendance or imposes fines.

Rep. Scott Reske, D-Pendleton, said he feels the $1,000-a-day fine is expensive, and he hinted that some Democrats might not push for a walkout.

"You don't use the same tactic twice," he said.

But Rep. Craig Frye, D-Mishawaka, called a walkout "the only way" to block the bill.

Hundreds of union members packed the hall outside the room where Democrats met Wednesday afternoon and cheered each member as they walked into the caucus meeting.

House Democrats could also decide to continue meeting in their caucus room indefinitely, effectively denying Republicans the numbers needed to conduct business without actually leaving the state. It is unclear, though, whether that would be as effective in blocking the right-to-work bill.

Bosma said Tuesday he had not taken a tally, but is confident he can lock in the votes he needs to pass the measure.

Indiana's Senate Democrats lack the numbers needed to block the measure in their chamber — Indiana's Senate has no filibuster — where they are outnumbered by Republicans 37-13. Thus the focus has been squarely on the House Democrats.

Bosma and Long set a Friday hearing for both the Senate and House versions of the right-to-work bill. The respective measures will move through both chambers simultaneously.

"We have options so that we can react to whatever Rep. Bauer and his team have planned," Bosma said Tuesday.

A last-ditch option for House Democrats is trying to sway at least 10 Republicans to their side. Republicans hold a 60-40 majority in the House and would need at least 51 votes to pass the measure.

The Indiana AFL-CIO has been airing TV and radio ads targeting Republicans who may be vulnerable in the 2012 elections if they vote in favor of right to work.

Bosma and Gov. Mitch Daniels have been airing their own ads throughout the state in support of the measure, and the National Right to Work Committee has sent staffers to the state to build grass-roots support for the measure.

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  • this is not govt.
    I already vowed not to ever vote or consider a vote for a Democrat in Indiana ever after last year's walkout. Pat Bauer wants to play with our money and taxpayer's time like a crybaby. I thought we voted people to REPRESENT us not run away. Man up , Democrats and be part of the process- not run and hide and hide and hide.
  • Make it real simple
    Brad, good questions. Why are employees "forced to contribute" union dues? I'm not sure that they are unless the collective bargaining ageement includes that provision...an agreement reached by two willing parties to the contract.

    Where does the concept of non-union members paying union dues or sometimes called fees (always less than the full union dues)come from anyway? Could it be that labor laws require the exclusive representative (the union) to represent all employees, union and non union alike, in a labor dispute and that all employees enjoy fully any pay and benefits negotiated by the union?

    How about this approach? Let's just institute a two tiered pay and benefits approach and change existing labor laws requiring equal representation and eliminate the so called "right to work" issue. Those employees represented by a union would receive their bargained level of pay and benefits and the remaining employees would receive what the employer decided that they were worth. Then we would really see if union representation worked. What do you think?

    I recommend for your reading and consideration today's Morton Marcus article entitled "Legislators do state no favor with right-to-work proposal."
  • Unbelievable
    What ever happened to doing the work you were paid or called to do as a public servant? It is ridiculous to think that they are going to do this again! Let's fire them all and get a new crew in there that will get the public's job done without striking!
  • Insanity
    I cannot believe that Pat Bauer would even hint at another walkout. More people living in hotel rooms over in Illinois as opposed to doing what they were elected to do == to be present at sessions, to try to persuade others to their respective point of view, to work for the good of the citizens of the State of Indiana. To be perfectly honest, any member of the Indiana General Assembly who walks out and goes to hide in Illinois or wherever should be voted out of office for shirking his/her duty as elected and paid officials.
  • Confused Taxpayer
    I must be missing something. If the right-to-work will still allow those who want to pay the Union dues to do so...then why is this new proposed law harmful?
  • It is legal
    It is legal to use the tactic of a walkout. That was their only option to stop the super majority. I understand and agree that you need to stand up and be counted for the vote. However i would rather they spent years debating something before enacting a law. And it was not only the right to work law that was thrown out last year - there were several others that were shelved as well - laws and code that need to be looked at more closely.
    I hope that the entire legislature slows down - think of the impact.
    Today, the rich will be the only ones allowed to use the tactic of walkout.
  • They can join if they want
    under Right to Work-they just can't be forced to pay. So, they can pay, if they feel there is a benefit.
  • time to go to work
    lets just make a deal that says you can either participate and pay dues if you want to otherwise you can not be forced to if you choose not. If the employees are happy with their employer they won't need a union. Should be a right to choose and work. An alternative could be if the union actually gets them better wages or benefits in a contract then they can all pay for the benefit. There has to be a happy medium out there. Think out of the box people. But please hit it head on rather than cut and run and OFFER some options.
  • TIME TO GO TO WORK
    All of our senate & house members, ran (said they wanted the responsibility), accepted the office, the pay, insurance, perks. Now it's time to show up for work. If they don't show then they should not get any pay, insurance or perks. If they don't show and do not have a valid reason then they should be replaced. Any other employee that doesn't show up to work quickly gets fired. The same should apply to all equally.
  • Go back to Illinois
    I'm hoping they walk again - they can show their true colors. I'm just hoping they're gone during the SuperDuper Bowl, so they can't get in for the free food and shows!
  • Pat the Bully
    Mr Bauer seems to relish playing the bully role, which he made crystal clear last year when he led the Democrats on their illegal sojourn to Illinois. It's surprising that Ivy Tech, a state-supported university, also would put up with Bauer's shenanigans. Bauer is double-dipping when he draws salaries from Ivy Tech AND as a legislator and isn't available to perform his duties. Our state has too many important issues facing is to put up with Bauer's antiquated threats.
  • Count me in...
    If there's a walkout (again) I'll be first in line to vote against the Democrats.
  • Same old game
    No kidding! The same old "take my ball and go home game" is not the way to get things done, didn't most of us, except our Democratic Party lawmakers obviously, outgrow that in junior high?
  • "Not Larry"
    Larry, feel free to take your ball and run away with your boys... would be best for Indiana if the House Dems leave again (with their union bosses in tow)- but this time choose not to return!
  • Term Limits
    If Bauer pulls this trick again - it is time to push for term limits in Indiana. Either do the business of the people - or get out!
  • Make it simple
    Let me just ask this: If belonging to a union provides such good benefits, why do you have to be forced to contribute? If it is such a wonderful thing, why are people not standing in line to join and pay so they can be members?
    • Larry . . . seriously?
      . . . judging from the grammar, punctuation and spelling . . . looks like that education system failed you a LONG time ago . . .
    • action
      time to vote the republicans out, they have a massive majority, have already started the steps to destroy public school teache rights and now are using their arrogance to bully everything through. Thank you to the minority for being smart enought to use Parliamentary law i going to Illinois last year. It was the only legal/correct way to protect the minority. Just like Abe Lincoln when he walked out year's ago.The arrogance of Bosma/Daniels is appaling. Check their records i 3-5 years
      • Vote them OUT
        It is absolutely assinine that the good people of Indiana continue to put these "lawmakers" of the Democratic Party into office. Mr. Bauer's entire philosophy of politics appears to be not what is or is not good for the State of Indiana, rather, whatever he can do to keep some grip of "control." Regardless of the issue, DO YOUR JOB . . . if you do your job, the voters of Indiana would be pleased to put more Democratic lawmakers in office and that majority would then be able to take their turn at proposing law . . . which I am sure would include law that the Republican lawmakers would find objectionable.
      • Not Again!
        I'm a former long-time Republican, turned Democrat 5 years ago. Now I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm a Democrat! Walking out on the job is not the way to get the people's work done. Grow up (or grow some), Boys, and get on with the State's -- and my -- business!!!
        • Go ahead - walk out
          And we'll all remember that much more freshly in November. What a bunch of "leaders". I hope they do it.

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