By Megan Banta
Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and House
Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, announced Thursday that House and Senate
Republicans will work jointly to salvage the 2011 session of the Indiana
Bosma also said that he was going to increase the fines imposed on the missing
House Democrats, a move that provoked a strong reaction from the Democrats.
The Democratic boycott has entered its fourth week, and Bosma and Long both
expressed doubt that House Democrats plan to return from Urbana, Ill., any time
House Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, confirmed these doubts when he
said in a conference call with reporters that Democrats are not likely to
return any time soon.
"We don't see the welcome mat there, with a hundred dollars added to our fine.
It's not a warm, inviting place," Bauer said.
Bauer said the Democrats will determine on a day by day basis whether they will
return. He said the two parties have come close to a resolution several
"This has happened time after time. We get very, very close, and it's almost
ready to put together, and then there's a blow-up," Bauer said
Bosma said that House Republicans have taken "every reasonable action
possible," including tabling right to work for the remainder of the session,
imposing fines, which Bosma has now increased from $250 per day to $350 per
day, and accepting proposed amendments, in order to convince the Democrats to
But Bosma said he is no longer willing to negotiate.
"It's not time for a backroom secret deal. It's not time for a strike or a
shutdown until a handful get their way," Bosma said. "It's time for individuals
to participate in the process that we all swore to uphold."
Bauer cited this refusal to negotiate further as the reason that Democrats have
not yet returned from Illinois.
Bosma and Long said until the Democrats return, the Senate and the House will
be working together to move forward.
"This is the definition of Groundhog Day. I wake up, and Sonny and Cher is on
the radio and the day goes the same," Bosma said. "It's time to set that aside,
move forward, and we have willing partners to do that."
"There will be three caucuses working in the Statehouse for the people of
Indiana, doing the job they were elected to do, respecting the people who
elected them," Long said.
"We're going to go to work and keep working, and we're going to get the job
done, and we're going to do it, apparently, without the House Democrats."
Long said House Republicans will be allowed to sit in on Senate committee
hearings, view the proceedings, possibly ask questions, and participate in any
other way that does not violate Senate committee rules.
Long also said the Senate is considering amending language from pending House
Bills into bills in the Senate.
"We will work together on what we think is a priority," Long said.
Bosma and Long said that the main goal of the collaboration between House and
Senate is to save the legislative session.
"We will not allow an important agenda that protects Hoosier families,
taxpayers, students, and workers to be sidetracked by a few misguided
individuals and those who are following them," Bosma said.
Bosma and Long are "also considering enacting legislation that will address
issue for the future."
Bosma said there used to be anti-bolting legislation in place and that they are
looking at that and updating it to include in possible legislation.
"We both have concerns, and many of our members have concerns, about this
tactic becoming a normal part of the legislative process for the future," Bosma
Bauer criticized Republicans' consideration of no-bolting legislation.
"That is to distract from the issues before us. The issues before are their
attack on public education and their attack on the working people," Bauer said.
"The attention is [that] this war on the middle class, and this war on workers
and this war on public education has to stop."
The above is one of an ongoing series of reports from the Indiana Statehouse by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism.