Republicans put the squeeze on MIA Dems

Senate President Pro Tem David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma

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

General Assembly.

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

soon.

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

times.

"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

return.

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

this

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

said.

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.

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