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Indiana Republicans order $250-a-day fine for absent Democrats

By David Ariosto, CNN
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels ended collective bargaining soon after his election in 2005.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels ended collective bargaining soon after his election in 2005.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Indiana House Republicans have adopted a $250-a-day fine for missing Democrats
  • Democrats remained in Urbana, Illinois, for a second week
  • Their absence denies Republicans the two-thirds quorum necessary for a vote
  • Democrats are protesting a school voucher bill and a labor bill

(CNN) -- Indiana House Republicans have adopted a $250-a-day fine against missing Democratic lawmakers who left the state in protest over a controversial education and labor bill, lawmakers from both parties said Thursday.

More than 35 House Democrats remained in Urbana, Illinois, for a second week, denying their Republican counterparts the two-thirds quorum necessary for a vote on a school voucher proposal and a measure that would restrict collective bargaining rights for state workers.

Much like in neighboring Wisconsin, where Senate lawmakers ordered a $100-per-day fine of Democrats for each day they remained absent, House Republicans in Indiana adopted a similar resolution Thursday in an effort to pressure the lawmakers' return.

The measure is expected to take effect Monday.

The move comes one day after an apparent olive branch in which Indiana Democratic House Minority leader Pat Bauer travelled back from Illinois to meet with Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma, according to Tory Flynn, a spokeswoman for Republican House members.

Flynn said negotiations between Republicans and Democrats had remained at a virtual stand-still Thursday, costing the state $250,000 in staff salaries and other expenses.

House Democrats "have issued a long list of bills Republicans must agree to kill or they will not return," said House Speaker Bosma. "With this list of demands, the Democrats should stay in Illinois."

But GOP members had shown earlier signs of compromise, pledging to scrap a "right-to-work" bill that would have prevented private-sector unions from requiring workers to pay dues for representation.

"It isn't the 'right-to-work' bill that's kept us away," said Democrat State Representative Kreg Battles. "But it may have been the straw that broke camel's back that started this."

"We have never drawn lines in the sand," he said, arguing "there has to be room for discussion."

The state's Republican governor, Mitch Daniels -- who ended collective bargaining with public unions soon after his election in 2005 -- has defended the legislation as a needed fiscal reform measure.

But Daniels -- a former budget director under George W. Bush who is occasionally mentioned as a potential 2012 presidential candidate -- may now be facing a more difficult task in confronting private unions.

 
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