INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana House Democrats could soon get
hit with $1,000-a-day fines for stalling legislative work over a divisive
Democratic Leader Patrick Bauer said Thursday that Republican House
Speaker Brian Bosma promised to begin fining Democrats on Friday under a
new law designed to keep them from blocking business after a five-week
walkout last year.
significant issue. We think it's another assault against free speech,"
Bauer said Thursday as he walked into a private meeting of the House
But Bosma said
he had not decided whether to begin implementing the fines Friday and that
no legal paperwork had been started.
counting on folks having some common sense and showing up for work
eventually," Bosma said.
stalled business Wednesday, the first day of the 2012 session, when they
did not report to the House floor. That blocked consideration of a
right-to-work measure that would make Indiana the first state in more than
a decade to bar private unions from collecting mandatory fees.
again Thursday but did not say how long they planned to stall. Instead,
Bauer said, they are debating whether to hold public hearings on the
proposal around the state as soon as this weekend.
But when Bosma
took a roll call of House members Thursday afternoon, four Democrats had
joined the 60 Republicans. Three more Democrats, for a total of 67
lawmakers, are needed to conduct business.
The new law
levies a fine of $1,000 per day against each lawmaker who sits out more
than three days in a row. Republicans established the new penalties after
Democrats left the state last year to block the right-to-work measure.
Representatives filing into the Democratic caucus meeting Thursday said
they would withstand the fines, which could reach into the tens of
thousands of dollars depending on how long they stay away.
Democratic caucus meanwhile opened an account on the Democratic
fundraising website ActBlue and sent out an appeal Wednesday on Facebook
seeking donations of between $5 and $250. "The Indiana House Democrats
NEED YOUR HELP! Please support our caucus as we fight another battle
against the Republicans as they try to push RTW legislation through
without listening to working Hoosiers," the Democrats wrote in their
Democratic Party spokeswoman Jen Wagner said her group did not pay for any
of the penalties accrued last year and did not plan to pay any fines this
challenging fines from last year's session filed by Rep. Bill Crawford,
D-Indianapolis, is still being weighed by a Marion County Superior Court