Indiana Senate backs setting daily fines for boycotts

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Republican frustration over the five-week walkout by Indiana House Democrats re-emerged Wednesday as the state Senate approved a method for $1,000-a-day fines against boycotting legislators.

The action threatened the calm that has existed in the House since the Democrats returned March 28, with the Democratic leader saying he wasn't sure how his members would respond and that he believed such fines could violate the state constitution.

The Senate voted 36-0 to add the provision to the state budget bill after Democratic senators left the floor in protest. The measure would allow a resident of a boycotting legislator's district to ask a judge to fine lawmakers who were unexcused for three or more days in order to leave too few members present to conduct business.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long said the provision was needed to prevent such boycotts from becoming a regular tactic by legislators.

"It has set a terrible example, in my opinion, to the rest of the nation," Long said. "It cannot be allowed to occur."

Most House Democrats spent five weeks in Urbana, Ill., to protest education- and labor-related bills backed by majority Republicans, leaving the House with too few members to conduct official business.

Republicans imposed $250-a-day fines against the absent Democrats two weeks into the boycott and increased the fines to $350 for the final week. Those fines topped $3,000 for most of the Democrats.

House Democratic leader Patrick Bauer said soon after the Senate vote that he would have to meet with his members before deciding what action they would take and that he didn't know whether another walkout was possible with just more than a week remaining before the Legislature's April 29 adjournment deadline.

Bauer said Republicans were "out of whack."

"They've gone to such a radical extreme that some of these punitive measures that they try to dream up are more important to them than people having jobs, people putting food on the table," Bauer said. "I think the constitution would override their pouting and shouting."

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma suggested during the Democratic boycott that he was considering reviving an 1867 state law repealed in the 1970s that made it a misdemeanor with $1,000 fines for legislators to intentionally break quorum. Under the state constitution, two-thirds of legislators must be present to conduct business.

Bosma said Wednesday he hadn't advised senators on whether to proceed with the provision and wouldn't commit to supporting it.

"It might scratch a few scabs open and that's maybe not the best thing right now," Bosma said. "But we have had a lot of input from citizens over the last three months that they think some revision to the law or constitution is appropriate. If I were to pick one, I would say this is the most advisable one."

Republican Sen. Michael Young of Indianapolis, who sponsored the provision, said legislators were obligated by their oath to debate and vote on the issues.

"If I don't show up, fine me whatever it takes to get me to show up and do my job," Young said.

Democratic Sen. John Broden of South Bend told Republicans that the measure would damage the state constitutional rights of minority party legislators.

"There may be a time when the tables are turned and these unique tools of the minority party may be something that you might wish that you had not done away with so summarily," he said.


  • Furthering My Views
    It seems that almost all of our legislators do the will of special-interest-groups. Drug companies don't want anyone interfering with their potential profits so they got marijuana made illegal. It had been used in many medicines before it was declared illegal. It was made illegal because it couldn't be patented - no patent equals no enormous profits for drug companies. Soon lawyers, politicians, police, parole officers, drug-treatment centers and many others got on that gravy train. Mandatory auto-insurance just makes insurance companies richer while costing the public big bucks. These are just a couple examples of many, many more special interest groups getting legislators to enact legislation to benefit the special group. The sad thing is that the legislators have lost sight of who is their biggest special interest group. We, the people, are the biggest special interest group. Yet it is on our backs and from our toil that the other smaller special interest groups thrive. Neither Republicans nor Democrats are serving us well. Yet we continue blindly endorsing them, electing them and getting upset with them when they step on us once again! Everyone seems upset with government. But few have the will to change it.
  • Lily is the only one who needs to talk
    Lily is the only person who is really right here...the Demos should not have left, and the Repubs have done absolutely nothing but pass asinine wrongheaded legislation about immigration and Planned Parenthood to satisfy the special interests who gave them money, while not in the slightest providing any answers on jobs, economy, on anything else of substance...all the while insisting they stand on principle. The supposed mandate they think they were given last election had nothing to do anything but jobs and the economy...they may think differently, but they are already well on their way to guaranteeing a second term for Barack...wait and see...the will of the public is fickle, and changes very quickly when they are served more of the same old crap...we need a viable 3rd party very badly.
  • Backwards
    Quote: "Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma suggested during the Democratic boycott that he was considering reviving an 1867 state law repealed in the 1970s"...

    Reviving an 1867 state law? Is that really where we're at today Mr. Bosma?
  • Hindsight
    We should all learn from this...for months we watched mud slinging campaign ads from both sides...we didn't demand answers to the important questions...like, OK no more taxes, then exactly where will the revenue to run the state come from? Because Hoosiers are losing jobs which means less revenue from state income taxes. Hoosiers are losing homes = less property tax revenues. All we heard is no more taxes...Now we're having legislation rammed down our throats by a majority that even they can't believe their solutions are the only and right solutions...but they have to appease their campaign benefactors to whom they made the real promises to. Unfortunately we the people, and the voiceless children will have to pay the price of those promises.
  • Really ?
    No they did not do the ETHICAl thing. They should have done their job, not run from it. The only people they were concerned about were the unions that pad their bank accounts, that's it. The general public has taken pay cuts everywhere, but noooo not unions, dont dare touch their money. In economic down turns everyone is affected, why do they think they should be different? As goes for the majority, well obviously the voters made it that way, so that should tell you something. Walking out and refusing to do your job is not an acceptable solution, but then again that is what unions have been doing for years so I guess it makes sense to them and that is why they are supporting this mentality.
  • "Out of whack"
    Bauer stated that Republicans were "out of whack." That certainly is not true for Bauer. mca1948 said that they (Republicans) want redistricting so they can get more Republican votes. Are you not aware that redistricting is mandated by the Indiana constitution? So it isn't a matter of what they want. mca retired said that the Senate spent too much time trying to get back at the Dems and not enough time on the job they were elected for. Really! You blame the Repubs for not spending the time necessary to do their jobs when it was the Dems that spent weeks refusing to do theirs? Thats backwards thinking!
  • Read the Constitution
    Bauer was quoted in this story as saying, "I think the constitution would override their pouting and shouting." Bauer needs to read the Indiana Constitution and the U.S. Consitution. They say basically the same thing about this very situation. Here it is. Indiana Constitution: Article 4 â?? Sections 10 and 11
    Section 10. Each House, when assembled, shall choose its own officers, the President of the Senate excepted; judge the elections, qualifications, and returns of its own members; determine its rules of proceeding, and sit upon its own adjournment. BUT NEITHER HOUSE SHALL, WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE OTHER, ADJOURN FOR MORE THAN THREE DAYS, nor to any place other than that in which it may be sitting.
    Section 11. Two-thirds of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may meet, adjourn from day to day, AND COMPEL THE ATTENDANCE OF ABSENT MEMBERS. A quorum being in attendance, if either House fail to effect an organization within the first five days thereafter, the members of the House so failing, shall be entitled to no compensation, from the end of the said five days until an organization shall have been effected.

    I think that's pretty clear Bauer. Read the Constitution.

  • boycott and fines
    The republican party is trying to cut wages and money dor schools in the inner city where its needed most. They want re-districting so they can get more republican votes. The fines they want to impose is totally childish, they need to spend more time on the jobs they are elected for. they want to cut money from planned parenthood,so we can have more unwanted kids that will be neglected and on welfare. Enough is Enough The police chief-mayor-public safety director won"t even back the officers that are trying to protect us. Our state has knuckled under to the black clergy and whatever they want. The Primary is coming up make a difference get out and VOTE
  • Wake up
    So many people complain about the Democrats walking out instead of looking at the big picture. When a party FORCES their own agenda on the public they are NOT SERVING then someone needs to take a stand whether that be through protest or by speaking your mind. The democrats did the EITHICAL approach by protesting the TOTALITERRIAN approach by the MAJORITY who care more about GETTING THEIR WAY then what is best for their constituents. If they vote for fines for walking out in protest then their should be fines for those political parties and reps that have a low approval rating for not backing the public they are supposed to represent. How about a bill that forces ALL FOLITICAL REPRESENTATIVES to give up their TAX PAYER HEALTH CARE PLANS for one they fund on their own? I guess ATTACKING the middle class and the lower class just makes more sense to those in the MAJORITY since they don't want to have anything come out of their greedy little pockets.
    • finesandboycotts
      the senate seems to have spent to much time trying to get back at the democrats and less time on the the job they were elected for. Voters the PRIMARY is coming up and the republican party has gone crazy with power.
    • Tired of it
      Well put Ken ! Plain and simple it is their job. If they do not want to do it then quit so we can put people in place that actually care about what is happening in our state. Dont like the bills ? Believe you are going to beout voted ? Then instead of walking out, gather your supporters and make a stand where everyone can see you. You dont walk away just because you are not getting your way, this is something a child does. Any other person would have been fired for such actions at their job, and considering they all have already been paid for their services for the year it seems only right for them to be fined....at least the minium of what they would have made for the days they were supposed to be at work. I am tired of hearing about it, they need to suck it up accept the responsibility of their actions, pay the fines and get their butts back to work. That is what they were elected to do.
      • Ken Again
        I believe that when a legislator is elected to office that it is his or her duty to show up at the Statehouse every day of the Legislative session except for issues involving illness, family matters and some other rare exceptions. In no way whatsoever should a lawmaker or group of lawmakers choose to not be present at the Statehouse to work on legislation and voting on legislation. They are elected to be present at the Statehouse during this time. I don't care if it is a bunch of cry-baby Democrats or a bunch of cry-baby Republicans who may think of or choose to not be present and hold up State business. They need to be present and if they choose to leave then they should be fined. I'd even stick them in jail for a couple of days because jails are places that they have helped to create.

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      1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

      2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

      3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

      4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

      5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.