With only 58 legislators present, there was no quorum present to do business. The House needs 67 of its members to be present.
Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, told House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, that Democrats “continue to be in caucus” to discuss potential amendments to several bills.
Bosma said he was “flummoxed,” adjourned until noon, and labor union members watching in the gallery and hallway outside cheered the work stoppage.
Today’s fight was triggered by Republicans pushing a bill that would bar unions and companies from negotiating a contract that requires non-union members to kick-in fees for representation. It’s become the latest in what is becoming a national fight over Republican attempts to eliminate or limit collective bargaining.
House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, “has taken a page out of the Wisconsin Senate playbook apparently” by keeping his caucus in hiding, Bosma said. “They are shirking the job that they were hired to do.”
Asked at what point he would call in the Indiana State Police to attempt to round up the Democrats, Bosma said: “We’ll see how the day goes.”
Gov. Mitch Daniels had said he supports the policy his party is pursuing in this legislation, but said earlier that this is not the year to do it with so many other critical legislation in the works, including his education reform agenda.
Bosma said he spoke to Daniels and said the governor is “very supportive of our position to come in and try to do our work. He was not pleased that the Democrats weren’t here to do their work. And like me is just waiting to see how the course of the day proceeds.”
Austin told reporters that “it doesn’t matter where they (Democrats) are at this point. What matters is that they’re trying to figure out a way to save the state from this radical agenda.”
Asked if they were in the state, Austin said only: “They’re working hard.”
The last time a prolonged walk-out happened in the Indiana legislature was in the mid-1990s, when Republicans were in control and tried to draw new legislative district maps, eliminating a district that likely would have been a Democrat one, in the middle of the decade. Democrats won that standoff, staying away several days until Republicans dropped the plan.