News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 19, 2012

Indiana Democrats continue right-to-work boycott

TOM DAVIES
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana legislative leaders today did not appear to be moving toward a resolution of the standstill caused by most House Democrats’ boycott over the contentious right-to-work bill.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma tried to gavel the House into order this morning, but without the boycotting Democrats, there were too few members present to conduct business for the sixth day this month.

Only five of the 40 House Democrats were on the floor, with most of the others holding a private meeting in a Statehouse conference room a day after majority Republicans voted to start imposing $1,000-a-day fines. A few dozen union protesters cheered from a hallway outside the House chamber as Bosma announced the House did not have a quorum.

Bosma said he would try to convene the House later in the day.

“I really don’t have a sense of much at this point,” Bosma said. “No communication from the Democrats as to their intentions.”

Democratic leaders did not immediately comment, but House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer has said his party’s lawyers need time to draft a revised proposal for a statewide referendum on the bill banning union contracts with mandatory representation fees from nonmembers.

Debate on that proposal and other possible amendments to the bill had been expected to start Tuesday, but Democrats stalled action after receiving a review by lawyers for the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency that found that the Indiana Constitution “does not include a referendum option” for enactment of laws.

Many of the boycotting Democrats continue taking part in committee meetings held in the Statehouse, but Bosma has turned down an offer from Bauer that Democrats would return to the House to act on bills other than the right-to-work proposal.