As the Statehouse

walkout enters into its second full week, the question is becoming: "How soon

will they be back?"

For those of you not

fully familiar with the details, Indiana House Democrats are protesting the

Republican push of "right

to work" legislation

. Under "right-to-work," an individual cannot be compelled to pay union

dues or fees as a condition of their employment. Proponents say "right to work" will help create jobs and

make Indiana more competitive with other states. Opponents call it a race to the bottom and the "right to

work for fewer wages." Last year, Democrats left the state and relocated to Illinois

for 45 days. In response,

Republicans passed an anti-bolting statute which could allow for fines of up to

$1,000 per day if a lawmaker denies a quorum for more than three days.


Speaker Brian Bosma

hasn't said when he would start levying fines, but has

indicated that he is willing to do so if the Democrats don't come back. Democrats say the public needs more

time to understand the issue and they held hearing this past weekend in Ft.

Wayne and Evansville.

As an observer of

this process, I'm focused on the question: "How soon will they be back?"

We have already seen

some cracks in the Democrats united front. Two state lawmakers have recently "come over the wall," so

to speak. Rep. Ed DeLaney of Indianapolis and Dale Grubb of Covington. Both oppose "right to work" but think

the best way to fight it is on the floor of the House and not held up in

caucus. Other members who have

been on the floor are Democratic Reps. Steve Stemler of Jeffersonville, Peggy

Welsh of Bloomington, and Dave Cheatham of North Vernon. That makes five Democrats who

have broken ranks. If two more Democrats

leave the caucus that will make for 67 members on the floor and a quorum can be

held. More important than

that is the fact during his most recent news conference, House

Minority Leader Pat Bauer

admitted that Democrats can't stay gone indefinitely. So like I said, "How soon will they be


The problem with this

walkout is that Democrats did this last year and the sequels are never as good

as the original.The protest

crowds are smaller and the Democratic strategy doesn't seem as focused. For example, shortly after Governor

Daniels rescinded the limits on Statehouse access, Democrats could have declared

victory and marched on the House floor emboldened and Republicans would have

been a little gun shy. Instead,

the Democrats stayed behind closed doors and let the perfect media opportunity

get away from them.

There is some

speculation that Democrats could be back as soon as this week once they have

completed their hearings. There is

also a school of thought that some will return shortly after the first set of

$1,000 fines are levied. Either

way, they will be back, right to work will pass, and then everyone will ask

what was the point of holding out?


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