INDIANAPOLIS — Efforts by Indiana Republicans to pass right-to-work legislation remained stalled Thursday.
There weren't enough Democrats on the floor of the Indiana House at 9 a.m. Thursday to provide a quorum. Once again the House could not convene session and once again action on the measure (House Bill 1001) was prevented. A second attempt to convene took place later in the day but failed due to the lack of a quorum.
Republicans have started imposing $1,000-a-day fines on the Democrats for not showing up. Meanwhile, the Democrats are fighting in court to prevent the fines from being extracted from their paychecks.
Gov. Mitch Daniels has the authority to force all legislative members to come (or be brought) to a legislative session. It was the threat of him using this authority over the right-to-work issue last year that resulted in the boycotting Democrats fleeing into Illinois.
The official word from the office of Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, is that he's hoping the Democrats come to their senses. He also told reporters that he has not been in contact with the Democrats.
Democratic leaders say their lawyers need time to draft a revised proposal for a statewide referendum on House Bill 1001. They've said the wording could possibly be ready by Friday. One thing they don't seem to be saying, however, is whether they'd walk out again if the Republicans vote against the referendum amendment.
Under the House Bill 1001, companies and unions would be prohibited from negotiating contracts requiring employees to join unions. Also, any requirements that non-union employees pay union dues or agency fees would be banned.
Two weeks ago, the Democrats boycotted House sessions for three days to keep the right-to-work legislation from moving. Last week, the Democrats cut a deal with the Republicans. Under the agreement, the Democrats would have been allowed to debate the bill in session on Tuesday of this week and then allow a vote to be taken on it by the end of the week.
On Tuesday afternoon the House session started with the Democrats in attendance, but they reneged on the deal and bolted before the debate started, claiming they needed more time to work on the referendum amendment.