Indiana News

House Republicans Levy Fines on Absent Democrats

Protest of right-to-work bill reaches boiling point


Most House Democrats were absent from session Wednesday.  ( photo: Eric Berman)

33 House Democrats have been fined a thousand dollars each after blocking a quorum to debate a right-to-work bill.


The House was supposed to convene Wednesday morning to consider amendments to right-to-work and 12 other bills. Instead, Democrats and union allies held a rally one floor below in the statehouse rotunda, then disappeared into a closed-door caucus.

Democrats are demanding "several days" to rework a proposed referendum on right-to-work that legislative analysts say is probably unconstitutional. House Speaker Brian Bosma says it's just a delaying tactic, and says the fines will remain in force every day Democrats deny a quorum from now on.

Minority Leader Patrick Bauer accuses Republicans of blindsiding him by seeking the constitutional ruling. Bosma says he believes Bauer realized too late he didn't have the votes anyway.

Bosma says he doesn't know who asked the Legislative Services Agency for the ruling, but says L-S-A told him after the fact that the issue has come up before, and the legal analysis is not new.

Five Democrats who have been defying the walkout strategy were on hand for two failed quorum calls and are not subject to the fines. The fines also don't apply to South Bend Democrat Ryan Dvorak, who has been out with an undisclosed illness, and Mishawaka Democrat Craig Fry, who was excused for the day.

Bauer says Democrats disagree with the legal analysis, but are researching ways to get around it. Two possibilities under review: a county-by-county referendum, or a constitutional amendment.

Amending the constitution would postpone the effective date two years and allow the referendum, but would make it harder for a future Democratic governor and legislature to undo it. Bauer acknowledges Democrats are assessing their chances of winning if they went that route.

Bauer says Democrats will also seek a court order to block Bosma from docking their expense checks. A judge ruled last year that the House had the right to impose fines, but left the door open for Democrats to challenge attempts to collect them through payroll deduction.

» Bosma Threatens Fines As House Democrats Walk Out Again (1-17-12)
» Small Compromise on Right to Work (1-13-12)
» Union Workers March Through The Snow (1-12-12)
» Thaw in Relations in Indiana House (1-11-12)
» Daniels Makes Right-to-Work Pitch in State of the State Address (1-10-12)
» House Democrats Stage Another Boycott (1-10-12)
» Senior Groups Blast Right To Work (1-10-12)
» Contentious Commitee Hearing on Right to Work Bill (1-10-12)
» House Democrats' Walkout Ends (1-9-12)
» Democratic Leaders Hold Right-to-Work Hearing in Fort Wayne (1-8-12)
» House Democrats' Caucus Chair Quits Post Over Walkout (1-6-12)
» Senate Panel Approves Right-to-Work Bill (1-6-12)
» Democratic Representative Speaks on Right-to-Work (1-6-12)
» Why Is "Right-To-Work" So Controversial? (1-5-12)
» House Still Paralyzed As Democrats Continue Boycott (1-5-12)
» Another Session, Another Walkout (1-4-12)
» Daniels Outlines Final Legislative Agenda (12-16-11)
» Daniels Weighs Political Impact of Right-to-Work (12-12-11)
» Governor Not Weighing in Yet on Right to Work Bill (11-21-11)
» GOP Leaders Will Push Right-to-Work Bill (11-21-11)
» State Senator Speaks on Indiana Becoming a Right-to-Work State (11-15-11)
» Study Panel Recommends Right-to-Work Law (10-26-11)


Copyright by © 2012. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

WIBC News Traffic Hotline

If you see a news story or traffic tie-up, let us know!

Call:  317.637.6397


Send photos:


Garrison Chicks Abdul At Large Abdul At Large