News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News

Indiana Legislature

January 19, 2012

Indiana House votes for $1,000 fines for missing members

Only 5 democrats present Wednesday

INDIANAPOLIS — When Indiana House Democrats fled the state last year to stall action on a contentious labor bill, Republicans waited two weeks before docking the missing members’ expense checks.

This time around, they’re not so patient.

On Wednesday, after all but five House Democrats went AWOL for the sixth time in three weeks,   Republicans voted to hit each of the missing members with a $1,000-a-day fine.

That’s four times the initial fine that House Democrats faced last year during their five-week walkout.

But it matches the penalty carried by an anti-bolting law – prompted by last year’s walkout – that had yet to kick into effect Wednesday.

House Democrat leaders vowed to go to court to halt the new fines, which arise from a bitter battle over a  right-to-work bill that would outlaw mandatory union dues for private-sector workers.

A pending court case challenges the state’s ability to seize fines from lawmakers’ paychecks.

The fines, if they do stick, could add up fast. Indiana legislators earn a base salary of $22,000 a year plus a weekly per diem expense check of just over $1,000.

Not all House Democrats face the fines. Five House Democrats have broken with their ranks and have almost consistently showed up on the House floor for the session.

They include Rep. Dale Grubb from Covington, who was pushed out his role as a Democrat caucus leader when he sought to negotiate a compromise with the GOP-backers of the right-to-work bill.

Grubb likened his decision to show up for Wednesday’s quorum call to his childhood growing up on a pig farm.

“It’s comes from a sense of duty,” Grubb said. “It’s like when the sows are farrowing at 2:30 a.m. on a February morning when it was 11 degrees outside. It’s your job to be out there with them.”  

Like Grubb, Democrat Rep. Steve Stemler of Jeffersonville said he opposes the right-to-work bill, but can’t support the boycott.

“We were expected to be here by 9 a.m. this morning,” Stemler said Wednesday. “And it’s my responsibility to be here.”

Joining him on the House floor Wednesday were Democrat Reps. Peggy Welch of Bloomington, Dave Cheatham of North Vernon and Ed Delaney of Indianapolis.

Delaney said the stalemate and the resulting fines were  “caused by a bipartisan failure of leadership.”

Delaney blamed Minority Leader Patrick Bauer for failing to come up with a reasoned response to Bosma’s insistence that the right-to-work bill be the No. 1 legislative priority.

“It’s been all about games …,” Delaney said. “It shows the weakness of our legislature as an institution.”

But House Democrats who decided to stay out blame the Republicans who control the Statehouse.

Rep. Terri Austin of Anderson said GOP leaders “time and time again” have tried to silence the minority and shut down public debate on the right-to-work bill.

“This issue deserves the highest level of transparency, not shoved through the legislative process to demonstrate political power,” Austin said.    

The fines were imposed under long-existing House rules that allow the House Speaker to levy penalties on members who intentionally fail to show up.  

After House Democrats walked out last year and camped out in Illinois for five weeks to kill several bills, including a right-to-work bill, they were fined $250 a day.

The fine went up to $350 day in the third week of the walkout.

They ended up paying $120,000 in fines, with money taken out of their weekly expense checks.

After the walkout, the GOP-controlled legislature passed an anti-bolting law that imposes $1,000-a-day fines for lawmakers who intentionally stay out for three days in a row.

Maureen Hayden is the Indiana Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI, the parent company of the Tribune-Star. She can be reached at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Indiana Legislature
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Israeli Aircraft Hits Dozens of Gaza Targets Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway
NDN Video
Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010