Business in the Indiana House of Representatives has ground to a halt with 39 of 40 Democrat State Representatives purposefully abandoning their posts. With the lone exception of Representative Steve Stemler, who has shown up to work, the Democrat elected Representatives have fled across state lines. Most are holding up in a hotel in Urbana, Illinois.
By design, they left Rep. Terri Austin behind as their spokesperson, and another Democrat to quickly second any motion Democrat minority leader Patrick Bauer instructs Rep. Austin to make. The move was made solely to stymie the Republicans, who by rule, cannot conduct business without a quorum of 67 House members.
Republicans have walked off the floor briefly before. However, it is a fact that they did so only because of an abuse of the rules. No such thing has happened in this case. To the contrary, Speaker Brian Bosma actually appointed two House Democrats to chair committees and has allowed several solely Democrat authored bills to move freely through the process. This is a fairness that as Speaker, Pat Bauer never even considered.
The move has likely killed 23 bills, which had passed out of committees, with fair, and in many cases, lengthy debate and majority votes. Yet without a quorum, those committee reports cannot be adopted so the bills can proceed on to full floor debate and a final vote. Sadly, it may also place one of AFA of Indiana's priority bills in jeopardy, which is House Bill 1205, prohibiting your state tax dollars from going to abortion providers. HB 1205 is waiting on a Second Reading (floor debate and amendments) while the legislative clock keeps ticking.
The main reason for the walk out is not social issues like marriage protection or abortion, which the left loves to portray as a waste of time getting in the way of the "important" issues. In reality, our issues actually have fairy significant bi-partisan support. The reason for the temper tantrum is because of a bill prohibiting an employee in Indiana from being forced to join a union as a condition of employment. This bill, also called "right to work" legislation, cleared a House committee with a vote last Friday.
Last night, Representative Bauer issued his out-of-state demands listing eleven bills, mostly economic in nature, that they want killed. (A few of which have already passed the House with bi-partisan support.) The Illinois vacationers want the House Republicans to kill bills expanding charter schools, school choice vouchers for poor students and "right to work" proposals. They even want the proposed state budget revoked before they will return.
This kind of high drama makes for great newsprint and excitement for the political talking heads, but it is horrible government. In November, Hoosier voters gave House Republicans historic majorities to govern. House Democrats have not been shut out or mistreated. This unprecedented temper tantrum is shameful and should be widely denounced as such.
This stunt is also starting to cause a feeding frenzy among local labor unions and political liberals. Moments ago, a spokesman for the Indiana State Teachers Association was quoted on WIBC radio in Indianapolis predicting Wisconsin-like chaos in Indianapolis involving some 25,000 union members. Let's pray that Indiana's wayward elected officials return to Indiana to do the people's business.