News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 18, 2012

Grubb, four other Indiana democrats on House floor for labor bill debate

Maureen Hayden
CNHI Statehouse Bureau

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana House Democrats who failed to show up this morning for a quorum call were hit with a $1,000-a-day fine, but five of their colleagues escaped the punishment.

They include State Rep. Dale Grubb from Covington, and State Rep. Steve Stemler from Jeffersonville, who broke from their party caucus to appear on the House floor for a scheduled debate over a contentious labor bill that has stopped and stalled House business for three weeks.

Both Grubb and Stemler oppose the right-to-work bill that was up for a House vote today. The bill would prohibit employers from entering into labor agreements that require all workers to pay union dues.

But they don’t support the boycott that once again brought the House to a halt.

Grubb likened his decision to show up for the quorum call to his childhood growing up a pig farm. “It’s come from a sense of duty,” Grubb said. “It’s like when the pigs were sowing at 2:30 a.m. on a February morning when it was 11 degrees outside. It’s your job to be there.”

Stemler’s explanation of his decision wasn’t quite so colorful. Along with Grubb, he’s been part of the small minority of House Democrats who’ve shown up for quorum calls while others have stayed out. In three weeks, the missing House Democrats have skipped six days of the session in an effort to kill the right-to-work bill.

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

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

Minority Leader Patrick Bauer had been warned by Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma that he would start imposing $1,000 fines if House Democrats failed to show for today’s session.

Bosma made good on that threat.

Grubb’s decision has cost him; he was removed as the House Democrat caucus chairman after he disagreed with Minority Leader Patrick Bauer on how to handle opposition to the "right to work" legislation. Grubb has decided not to seek re-election.