Chesterton Tribune

Indiana Republicans approve fines on Democrat boycotters

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana House Republicans on Wednesday approved $1,000-a-day fines against boycotting Democratic legislators who gathered in the Statehouse Rotunda with labor union supporters rather than show up to debate a divisive right-to-work bill.

The Republicans voted to approve the fines as part of a resolution that accused the boycotting Democrats of “dereliction of their duty.” The only shouts of “no” came from among the five Democratic representatives not taking part in the boycott.

Most of the 40 Democrats resumed their walkout Tuesday after questions arose about the constitutionality of the statewide referendum they’re seeking on proposed amendments to the bill banning union contracts with mandatory representation fees from nonmembers. At that point, Speaker Brian Bosma said fines should begin if not enough Democrats showed up for the amendment debate on Wednesday.

Bosma rejected the Democrats’ request for more time for lawyers to draft a revised referendum amendment.

“We’ve given them an extensive amount of time, they asked for it and we gave it to them,” he said Wednesday. “Now there is another item they need more time on. It’s just a delay tactic.”

The Democrats began their meeting surrounded by hundreds of cheering union supporters, with more watching from the balconies above.

“We are simply asking Brian Bosma to hold House Bill 1001 (right-to-work) so we can get an amendment presented on the floor so the people of the state of Indiana have a voice,” said Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Austin, to cheers from union protesters.

Democratic House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer and one of his lieutenants, Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, said Republicans broke a truce the two sides had negotiated last week to allow a vote on the referendum proposal Tuesday.

Bosma said the fines are being imposed under House rules and not the anti-boycott law that Republican legislators pushed through last year.

Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, spoke in front of the House before the fine vote, asking for the Democratic representatives to return.

“This is the best system where we debate ideas,” Brown said. “Let us have our time. Let us do it the right way.”


Posted 1/18/2012