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Indiana Lawmakers Return Amid Union Bill Protest
March 28, 2011

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Democratic lawmakers returned to the Indiana state House after five weeks away to protest proposed legislation targeting worker unions, with the result being that they won concessions from the majority Republication representation but that the bills would largely go ahead as designed.

Like the Democratic Senators in Wisconsin, these lawmakers left their legislative posts to prevent a vote on the bills, which the Indiana Republican Party has said are needed to control the state's budget deficit. (Unlike the Federal Government, state governments are legally required to balance their budgets.)

The walkout by the Democratic representatives made votes on the bill impossible because Republicans, who had a majority of the members in the House, did not have a quorum — the number needed to have a vote — in this case, two-thirds. From their "hideout" in Illinois, Democratic lawmakers negotiated with Republicans on the 11 bills before the House. The result, other than a full House in which to debate and vote on the bills, is that the bills are largely unchanged but that the issues are more to the forefront, Democrats said. Top Republicans in the House agreed to amend some of the bills to remove some of the more contentious elements, among them a proposal to increase the number of students who could receive state-funded vouchers to attend private schools. (The GOP agreed to a put a two-year limit on that program.)

Still, the bills are largely unchanged and will probably become law that way.

The Indiana row began a week after the Wisconsin Senators fled their own legislative chamber. As in that state, absent lawmakers were fined a few thousand dollars for their absence.

The Indiana legislative session is set to close on April 29.



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