By Samm Quinn
The Statehouse File
A day away from triggering possible $1,000-per-day fines, Democrats
who skipped Wednesday and Thursday's House sessions are looking for new ways to
turn the public against a Republican right-to-work
Though House Speaker Brian Bosma
Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said he
hadn't yet decided when he would start imposing fines, House Minority Leader Pat Bauer
Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, said a potential blow to the
pocketbook is weighing on members of his caucus.
"There's no question that a fear of fines is a problem," Bauer said.
It could be the second year in a row Democrats faced fines for boycotting the
House. Bosma imposed fines last year, when Democrats
stayed for five weeks in Urbana, Ill.
"We did pay the price last time. It's just how high that price can go before
you have to find alternate means," Bauer said.
Though Bauer said the minority caucus has not decided what to do Friday if
fines are imposed, Rep. Vanessa Summers
Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis, said she isn't worried.
"I've been poor before. I've been poor since Urbana," she said. "God
Bauer said he believes Democrats wouldn't have to pay fines until the end of
session. "That's my understanding, but we'll see," he said.
He also said fines are an attack on their first amendment rights.
"We think it's another assault against free speech and we know that perhaps the
courts will agree with us," he said.
Bauer said House Democrats would meet Friday before the session is scheduled to
begin to discuss whether or not they'll show, but they may find different ways
to try and stop right-to-work.
Democrats, whose requests for legislative committee hearings to be held around
the state was rebuffed by Bosma, said they intend to
hold at least five meetings outside the Statehouse, some beginning this
"We're going to try this weekend to do at least one in Evansville,
perhaps Fort Wayne and some other places," Bauer said.
Democrats say they are asking for more time so Hoosiers can understand the
issue. But Bosma said the issue has been debated for
a year now, with several summer study committee meetings on the topic. He said
Republicans are not seeking to move too fast, especially since this is a short
session that is scheduled to end March 14 and will be interrupted briefly by next
month's Super Bowl.
"We've actually been studying this issue now for a year," Bosma
said. "There's nothing extraordinary or fast about this. We have bills that are
right alongside this that are proceeding as well."
Rep. Ed DeLaney
Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, said Democrats are
doing their best to put right-to-work on what he called a rational schedule
rather than push it through both chambers as quickly as possible.
"It was being rushed through like it's a crisis or some emergency," he said.
"Whatever it is, it's not an emergency."
DeLaney acknowledged Republicans and Democrats have
become two "immovable forces" in the House of Representatives.
DeLaney, as well as three other Democrats, were present for Thursday afternoon's session. If three more
break ranks and show up, it would give majority Republicans the two-thirds
quorum they need to conduct business.
The above is one of an
ongoing series of reports from the Statehouse File by students at the Franklin
College Pulliam School of Journalism.