Heart of the River hosts Protest Paddle

 

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

Statehouse.

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

amendment.

"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.

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