By Samm Quinn

House Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, says why

Democrats won't return to do business at a press conference Tuesday evening. Photo by Abigail Godwin, The Statehouse File.

House Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, announces

Democrats will not return to the House while House Speaker Brian Bosma listens Tuesday evening. Photo by

Abigail Godwin, The Statehouse File.

House Speaker Brian Bosma,

R-Indianapolis, addresses the Democrat boycott Tuesday evening. Photo by Abigail Godwin, The Statehouse File.

Plans for the Indiana House to vote on an amendment that

would send the right-to-work

issue to a statewide referendum fell apart Tuesday when Democrats boycotted for

the fifth day of this year's session.


Minority Leader Pat Bauer

, D-South Bend, said minority Democrats were

absent because they were concerned by a note from non-partisan analysts that

indicated such a referendum would violate the Indiana Constitution.

As a result, the day ended in a stalemate, and with majority

Republicans promising that fines would come if Democrats were not back


Action on the issue was expected Tuesday because last week

Democrats agreed to return to the House if majority Republicans allowed them to

offer their amendment that would send right-to-work — the item that tops

Republicans' agenda for this year — to a referendum.

Now, Bauer says, Democrats won't return to the chamber until

they can draft a version of the referendum that is constitutional.


Speaker Brian Bosma

, R-Indianapolis, said Bauer

and his caucus broke promises they made to the public and their colleagues to

participate Tuesday, and he will start imposing $1,000 fines if they are not on

the floor Wednesday.

"I'm done with delays and excuses and we'll start

fining tomorrow if they're not here and we'll fine every day they're absent

from here on out for the rest of this General Assembly," Bosma said.

Bauer said Democrats would participate in House committee

meetings and sessions related to every issue other than the right-to-work

battle. On that topic, he said, they'll stay out until they've crafted a

statewide referendum proposal that passes constitutional muster.

"We need time on this one bill to at least have a fair,

constitutional chance to give people a voice," he said.

In a memo, the Legislative Services Agency, which is the General


non-partisan research arm, said it is "unlikely" that

a statewide referendum on the right-to-work issue would be constitutional.

That, the group said, is because unlike states such as Ohio

and California, Indiana's constitution does not provide for such referendums,

and says the only way for laws to be enacted is for the General Assembly to

pass them.

Bosma said that memo isn't pertinent, because Bauer gave his word that he and his

caucus would be present Tuesday to do work on the bill. He said he agreed to

hear the amendment and that he had intention to vote on the amendment Tuesday.

"We get claims that something is or is not

constitutional here constantly," Bosma said.

"I've made my commitment that we would debate it and vote on it É he

essentially said it didn't matter."

He said his preference is for lawmakers, rather than voters,

to decide the issue.

"Our state constitution very clearly holds the General

Assembly responsible for statewide enactments," he said. "Apparently,

Rep. Bauer came to the realization that it might put their amendment in

jeopardy and decided that was enough to walk away."

Rep. Eric Turner, R-Marion, whose smoking ban bill was

supposed to be up for amendments Tuesday, said he was unhappy with Democrats'


"Rep. Bauer, I know you're listening, you gave your

word," he said.

He asked Bauer and his caucus to return to the House

Wednesday to conduct business on right-to-work and other bills that were halted


"There are a lot of other issues that are very

important to your constituents and mine," he said.

Bauer said Tuesday's debate turned personal when Republicans

began questioning his integrity. Bauer said Republicans broke House rules by

attacking him personally rather than focusing on the policy arguments.

"They shall not impugn the integrity of the speech or

judgment of the other members," Bauer said, reading from the rules.

"He violated the rules. Shame on him."

The Statehouse File is a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.


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