INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana's right-to-work legislation stayed put today as the Democrats stalled for time and Republicans huddled to decide their next move.
This morning's scheduled House session did not take place, as the Democrats pulled a work stoppage for the fifth time this year. A quorum of at least two-thirds of the 100-member House is required to hold a session. Although the House Republicans hold a 60-40 majority, they can't start a session without at least seven Democrats being present.
At issue is whether or not Indiana will become the nation's 23rd right-to-work state. Under the legislation (House Bill 1001), companies and unions would be prohibited from negotiating contracts requiring employees to join unions and requirements that non-union employees pay union dues would be banned.
The latest line from the Indiana House Democrats is that they're not boycotting the House sessions, just the bill. They're claiming they need more time to prepare their referendum amendment.
The referendum amendment was one of 44 amendments the Democrats were expected to try to get attached to the bill in a scheduled debate on Tuesday. Just before the debate was supposed to take place, however, the Democrats bolted and the session came to a halt.
According to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency that serves the Indiana General Assembly, the Democrats' original version of the referendum amendment included violations of the Indiana Constitution.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, has said the state's $1,000 per-day fines would be put into effect today if the Democrats failed to show up for the House session. House Democratic Leader B. Patrick Bauer, however, has told his colleagues and the news media that the fines can't be enforced.
A commonly reported context for the stalling tactics used by the Democrats is that they are trying to delay the issue until the Super Bowl, which takes place Feb. 5 in Indianapolis. In addition, it appears that a growing portion of the Indiana news media is reporting on the RTW battle with skepticism about the motives on both sides of the aisle.