Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

February 22, 2011

Indiana Governor: Similar Circumstances, Different Tune

Filed under: Scott Walker — millerlf @ 8:43 pm

Compare Indiana to Wisconsin.  In Indiana, the Republican dominated assembly (60 out of 100 seats) gets set to fast track “right to work” legislation and the Democrats flee  to Illinois in order to deny the Republicans a quorum.  Sounds like Wisconsin?  Then the Republican Governor, Mitch Daniels, chimes in;  except his message contrasts with that of Scott Walker-  Governor Daniels response is to tell the Republican legislators to drop the right to work bill, and he adds that the Democrats have the right to express their views and this is not the year to take on the unions!  Meanwhile, in Wisconsin Scott Walker continues his rampage by polarizing the state and bringing the state government to a grinding halt.  Wow, what a contrast!  Don’t you wish Scooter would just grow-up?  Check out the following article on Indystar.com:

http://www.indystar.com/article/20110222/NEWS/110222004/Indiana-Democrats-trigger-Statehouse-showdown-over-anti-union-legislation

3:40 PM — Governor says time to dump labor bill

Gov. Mitch Daniels signaled this afternoon that Republicans should drop the right-to-work bill that has brought the Indiana House to a standstill for two days and imperiled other measures.

Daniels told reporters this afternoon that he expected House Democrats will return to work if the bill dies. It would be unfortunate if other bills are caught up in the turmoil, he said.

He will not send out state police to corral the Democrats, the Republican governor said.

The Democrat minority has right to express its views, he added.

The governor clung to his view that this is not the year to tackle right to work.

Earlier — Democrats trigger Statehouse showdown

Seats on one side of the Indiana House were nearly empty today as House Democrats departed the the state rather than vote on anti-union legislation.

A source tells the Indianapolis Star that Democrats are headed to Illinois, though it was possible some also might go to Kentucky. They need to go to a state with a Democratic governor to avoid being taken into police custody and returned to Indiana.

The House came into session twice this morning, with only three of the 40 Democrats present. Those were needed to make a motion, and a seconding motion, for any procedural steps Democrats would want to take to ensure Republicans don’t do anything official without quorum.

With only 58 legislators present, there was no quorum present to do business. The House needs 67 of its members to be present.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said he did not know yet whether he would ask the Indiana State Police to compel the lawmakers to attend, if they can be found.

Today’s fight was triggered by Republicans pushing a bill that would bar unions and companies from negotiating a contract that requires non-union members to kick-in fees for representation. It’s become the latest in what is becoming a national fight over Republican attempts to eliminate or limit collective bargaining.

Gov. Mitch Daniels had warned his party late last year against pursuing so-called “right to work” legislation. While he agreed with it philosophically, he said it was a big issue that needed a state-wide debate and noted no Republican had run on this in the November election.

But now that his party is pursuing it, Daniels has not spoken against it. He has so far issued no statement, has held no news conference and has not been interviewed by any Indiana reporters in the Statehouse. Daniels did do a radio interview Monday with National Public Radio in which he discussed the labor fight which has caused a government stalemate in Wisconsin — where Senate Democrats have fled to Illinois to prevent a vote on a bill that limits collective bargaining –a now, apparently, his state.

Today, the union members who have filled the Statehouse — an estimated 4,000 according to the Indiana State Police — held a rally, chanting such things as “Ditch Mitch” and “Save Our Families,” which he must have heard as he worked in his nearby Statehouse office.

Union supporters say the bill which has sparked the protests, House Bill 1468 such a measure would weaken bargaining power because companies under collective bargaining agreements would no longer have to hire union members. Supporters, including the state’s Chamber of Commerce, say it would makes Indiana more appealing to business and will bring jobs to the state.

Tim Kilbourne, a plow truck mechanic for the city of Indianapolis, said he and other workers would keep coming to the Statehouse until legislators kill the bill.

“All these bills here is to kill the worker,” he said.

House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, “has taken a page out of the Wisconsin Senate playbook apparently” by keeping his caucus in hiding, Bosma said. “They are shirking the job that they were hired to do.”

In Wisconsin, Senate Democrats have fled to Illinois to deny Republicans the quorum they need to pass legislation limiting collective bargaining for many public employees.

Asked at what point he would call in the Indiana State Police to attempt to round up the Democrats, Bosma said: “We’ll see how the day goes.”

Bosma said he spoke to Daniels and said the governor is “very supportive of our position to come in and try to do our work. He was not pleased that the Democrats weren’t here to do their work. And like me is just waiting to see how the course of the day proceeds.”

Austin told reporters that “it doesn’t matter where they (Democrats) are at this point. What matters is that they’re trying to figure out a way to save the state from this radical agenda.”

Asked if they were in the state, Austin said only: “They’re working hard.”

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said it’s not important where the Democrat lawmakers are.

“This is a principled fight,” Parker said.

What’s important, he said, is that they are standing up to an agenda they believe will cut wages for Indiana workers, both in unions and those who do not belong to unions. They’ll return, he said, when they drop the bills Democrats see as an “assault on the middle class.”

Bosma, though, said Republicans are “counting on common sense and a sense of responsibility to prevail and that they would get back here and do the job that they were elected to do.”

The last time a prolonged walk-out happened in the Indiana legislature was in the mid-1990s, when Republicans were in control and tried to draw new legislative district maps, eliminating a district that likely would have been a Democrat one, in the middle of the decade. Democrats won that standoff, staying away several days until Republicans dropped the plan.

Watch IndyStar.com for updates on this story.

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