By Sarah Seward
Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said
the Democratic boycott that has shut the chamber down for four weeks now has
prompted Republicans to think about proposing laws that would allow Hoosiers to
recall missing lawmakers.
That, and restoring an anti-bolting law that was once on
Indiana's books and led to automatic fines if legislators boycott their jobs,
are two ideas Republicans are considering, Bosma said.
As Democrats remained in Urbana, Ill., the Republican members
of the House Rules Committee extended the deadline for the chamber to pass
bills and send them over to the Senate until March 31.
The move came after Minority Leader Pat Bauer (D-South Bend)
sent a letter to Bosma on Tuesday that implied the Democrats would return if
Republicans would lower caps on the number of students able to use a private
school voucher program that Republicans have proposed, and if Republicans
agreed to kill a labor bill by sending it to a summer study committee.
Bauer said a committee study will help to "calm the fears of
thousands of workers."
Bosma agreed to caps on the vouchers systems, and said they
were already working to lower those caps, but is not willing to take off the
table the bill that would end project labor agreements, which favor union
workers on public works projects.
"We have indicated that we are always open to
discussion and compromise," said Bosma, "That compromise will take
place right here on the floor of the House, not some backroom deal."
In a phone call with reporters, Bauer said he hopes that the
Democrats and Republicans can have "calm and consistent negotiations."
Bauer also said that the Democrats had a "few
matters" to resolve with the Republicans before they would return to the
Bosma said public pressure has led Republicans to consider a
recall procedure, although they cannot enact one until it passes the House,
which cannot happen until Democrats end their boycott.
He said there are other options, too, such as changing the
two-thirds quorum requirement. That, though, would take a constitutional
"If this is going to be the conduct of elected
officials in the future, perhaps it is time to take a look at the Constitution
and revise it," said Bosma.
Bauer called those possibilities distractions.
"I think that's another way they dodge the issues
before us," he said.
The above is one of an ongoing series of reports from the Indiana Statehouse by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism.