Former Indiana House Speaker Patrick Bauer has decided to retire after 50 years in the Legislature, ending the career of a Democrat known for his clashes with former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and leading a five-week legislative boycott trying to block passage of a state “right-to-work” law.
Bauer, 75, announced Monday he wouldn’t seek re-election this year in the South Bend district that he’s represented since 1970. He’ll retire as the longest-serving member in the Indiana Legislature’s history.
Bauer was House speaker for six years between 2002 and 2010 but was the House minority leader when Democrats refused to take the floor on a key deadline day at mid-session in 2005, killing more than 100 bills. Daniels then called Bauer a “throwback politician” whose party members had “car bombed” the legislative process.
Bauer led Democrats on a 2011 boycott to an Illinois motel, a move that blocked the “right-to-work” bill that year, but Republicans passed it the following year and Democrats suffered 2012 election losses that have left them largely powerless in the House since then.
For most of the 1990s until he became speaker in 2002, he was chairman of the budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee. He often got much of what he wanted from Republicans who ruled the Senate, especially more money for schools and teachers.
Bauer, who followed his father into the Legislature, highlighted his work to cut the state’s auto excise tax and starting Indiana’s early education and pre-kindergarten programs.
Bauer said he was honored to serve in the House and that “By working together, I truly believe we have made St. Joseph County, and Indiana, a better place to live.”