• Political wranglings lead to statehouse standstill

    January 18, 2012 No comments

    Hearings have been canceled today at the Indiana Statehouse as Democrats threaten a walkout.

    On Tuesday, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said he would start imposing $1,000 fines against Democratic legislators who resumed their boycott of a right-to-work bill.

    Bosma said any Democrat who didn’t show up Wednesday would be fined.

    Bosma’s threat came minutes after Democratic House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer announced Democrats would resume their on-again, off-again boycott because of what he called Bosma’s “manipulation” of an effort to put right-to-work legislation on the ballot.

    The two leaders fought over who broke a truce negotiated to keep Democrats in the House chamber long enough for a vote on a Republican plan to ban union contracts with mandatory representation fees. The legislation has brought hundreds of labor protesters to the Statehouse almost daily and spurred Democrats to frequently block action by denying Republicans the number of lawmakers needed to conduct business.

    Lawmakers had planned Tuesday to vote on whether to put the right-to-work bill to referendum before voters this fall. But Bauer said he found out late Monday that state lawyers had raised questions about the constitutionality of such a measure. He called it a trick Bosma was using to give Republicans cover to vote against the referendum proposal.

    Lawyers for the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency, the state agency that drafts bills for lawmakers and provides legal advice, wrote in a January 13 memo that the Indiana constitution “does not include a referendum option” and said it is “unlikely” voters could have the final say on statewide legislation.

    Legislators in recent years have permitted local referendums on whether to allow casinos, approval of school construction projects, additional property taxes for school and elimination of township assessors. State records show the only statewide referendum questions in several decades have been on whether to approve amendments to the state constitution – not approving state laws.

    Posted by in Local News

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