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No breakthrough in talks to end Indiana House walkout

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Legislators from both parties threw cold water Thursday on optimism about a breakthrough ending the month-long boycott by Indiana House Democrats.

Most Democratic representatives fled to Illinois on Feb. 22 to hold up what they consider anti-labor legislation. Work in the House has been mostly stalled since then with too few members present to conduct business.

On Thursday, Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma downplayed a private meeting he had at the Statehouse a day earlier with Democratic leader Patrick Bauer — just their second face-to-face talk since the Democrats left their jobs.

"We're exactly where we've been," Bosma said. "We continue to hope that Democrats will return."

The legislative standoff will continue until at least Monday, the next time the House is scheduled to be in session.

Bosma said he didn't have plans to talk to Bauer on Thursday. Wednesday's meeting included discussion on a bill changing the regulations covering wages and other matters for workers on government construction projects. That was one of the bills that led to the Democrats' decision to start boycotting the House session.

Democratic Rep. Scott Pelath of Michigan City, one of two boycotters on the House floor to make sure no action is taken without enough members present, said the meeting between Bosma and Bauer was positive and it would be good for the two party leaders to keep talking.

"We always have to guard against too much optimism because that's not helpful," he said.

Bosma said he would review his conversation with Bauer for Republican House members and the sponsor of the government projects bill.

That proposal would prohibit government units from requiring contractors to have agreements with labor unions on large construction projects. It also would increase the cost level at which projects would be exempt from the state's prevailing construction wage law.

"I've never said there was no room for compromise, but I'm not conducting some big, secret backroom deal that's going to solve the world's problems here," Bosma said.

Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said ending the boycott wasn't as important as finding middle ground on the education and labor issues that prompted the walkout.

"I'm not pressing the leader for a date certain" to return, Brown said. "It's best that whoever is involved in those negotiations keep it as close to the vest as possible so it doesn't blow up."

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  • Manager, Business Development
    This is bull!!!! They definitely should not be paid and should be fired! This isn't grade school where if you don't like how the game is progressing you take your ball and go home. These people need to grow up!
  • Democratic representatives
    And not be paid for their time in Illinois.
  • Democratic representatives
    They should all be removed from office for not doing their jobs!
    • Get back to work
      It is time to return to work. you have made your statement and your point known but there comes a time when you have to do your work in Indy. As a fellow State of IN. employee your time is up in the State of Il. return now to IN.

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