Democrats call for investigation of Turner


By Megan Banta

After a five-week long stay

in Urbana, Ill., Indiana House Democrats returned to the Statehouse Monday

afternoon ready to return to work.

The House went into session

around 5 p.m., and legislators picked up with a calendar that has not changed

since Feb. 22, the day that Democrats left Indiana.

House Speaker Brian Bosma,

R-Indianapolis, cited public pressure and concessions on a few key bills as the

reason that Democrats decided to return. Democrats, meanwhile, declared


"We're coming back after

softening the radical agenda. ... We won a battle, but we recognize the war goes

on," said House Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend.

"There's still going to be

attacks on school children and the schools they learn in. There's still going

to be attacks on working people. Hoosiers, though, had a time-out, and they

needed that time-out to learn about these bills."

Republicans have made

several concessions on contended legislation, including right to work, the private

school voucher bill and House Bill 1216, which deals with project labor

agreements, in order to draw Democrats back.

The right to work bill,

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said, is dead, and will go

to a summer study committee.

The voucher bill is still

likely to go through, but Republicans said they will lower enrollment caps from

10,000 to 7,500 in the first year, and from 20,000 to 15,000 in the second

year, with no caps whatsoever in the third year and beyond.

House Bill 1216, which

would have originally eliminated agreements that favor union contractors on

public works projects, now leaves those agreements in place for projects passed

by public referendum.

The bill also would have

changed the point at which the common construction wage applies from government

construction jobs worth less than $150,000 to those worth less than $1 million.

After negotiations, Republicans have agreed to change that point to $250,000

starting in 2012 and $350,000 after that.

Though Democrats have returned

now that these concessions have been made, Bosma and other Republicans continue

to insist that negotiations could have gone much smoother if Democrats had

remained in the Statehouse.

"We could have gotten to

this place much more quickly – in a matter of days or hours, if everyone

had been in the building, I think. I think folks didn't believe that our

earlier statement, that the calendar was the calendar would stick, and it has.

We've been resolved in that," Bosma said

Bosma also said that there

are no plans to waive the fines imposed on Democrats, which now total more than

$3,000. Republicans see the fines as a reasonable consequence for the boycott.

"Those fines were worth

it," Bauer said

Bauer said that the fines

are much less than the penalties that unemployed Hoosiers will face due to

another Republican-backed bill that overhauls the state's bankrupt unemployment

insurance fund, and slashes benefits in the process.

"They're half as much as

what unemployed Hoosier lost to their bill that we weren't able to stop," Bauer


The above is one of an ongoing series of reports from the Indiana Statehouse by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism.