Republicans in Indiana’s state senate on Wednesday killed a proposed ‘right-to-work’ bill that would have reduced the power of unions in the state.
“‘It was a mistake,’ said Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, a Republican, at a late morning press conference, the Courier-Journal reported…
“Long said he had urged House Speaker Brian Bosma not to pursue the bill ‘because of the chance it would blow up the session and we would have exactly the reaction [i.e. a Democratic walkout] we have out there.'”
“Gov. Mitch Daniels says he will hold special sessions from now until the New Year and send the bills to the House Democrat’s leader if the Democrats persist in killing bills with their walkout.
“Democrats are in Illinois, in their third-day of a walkout that began Monday in a protest over a bill targeting labor union talks but which encompasses many more labor and education bills. House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said Democrats would not return today, and that it was a ‘day to day’ discussion about when they would return…
“Bauer said the House Democrats realize Republicans won’t let them have their hope: taking 11 labor and education bills taken off the table for consideration this session. But they want more than just the one, the ‘right to work’ measure, that Republicans today agreed to send to a study committee.
“Bauer would not go into details, but said two bills at the top of the list are the school-voucher bill, which would send tax dollars to private schools, and another on collective bargaining for teachers.”
“Daniels’ latest remarks from this afternoon:
“First, I need to clarify a confusion I personally caused yesterday. I didn’t realize it at the time; most of you were not confused; yesterday I began extemporaneous comments by saying that the activities of the last two days- and I think I gestured to the atrium- were entirely appropriate. I was talking about the protestors and those who came to express their views and the strength of those views. They are welcome here, today and every day. What they’ve done is completely appropriate. It was not to condone the activities of the house Democratic caucus; which is completely unacceptable of course. Rereading my own comments, I could see how they could have been misconstrued and a couple of people did. So just for those of you who did misunderstand, my bad, but I don’t want any question left. Huge distinction between people exercising their first amendment rights and people who take a public paycheck, walk off the job, go to another state, and try to wreck the democratic process.
“The House Democrats have shown a complete contempt for the democratic process. The way that works—as we all learned in grade school—is that if you seek public office you come do your duty, you argue, you debate, you amend if you can, you vote ‘no’ if you feel you should. If you are not successful, you go home and take your case to the voters. You don’t walk off the job, take your public paycheck with you, and attempt to bring the whole process to a screeching halt. You know if they persist, the Democratic Party of Indiana will need a rebranding effort because this is as anti-democratic as behavior can be.
“All that said, I think they deserve another chance, let the heat of the moment cool I hope. Maybe if their leadership doesn’t have a conscience about the unconscionable things they’ve done, maybe individuals members do.”
“Many conservatives are displeased that Mitch Daniels has not supported his legislature’s attempt to pass right-to-work legislation. Given the passions engendered by the Wisconsin situation, it’s understandable that many conservatives are upset with what they see as an unnecessary punt on an important issue. There is, however, a fair amount of Indiana-specific context that they should consider…
“[I]t’s worth reviewing Indiana’s recent history, for those who have the impression that Daniels is a coward. Back in 2005, Indiana House Democrats used the same tactic, leaving the capitol and boycotting votes on dozens of pending bills just before a critical deadline. At that time, Daniels said that ‘Indiana’s drive for growth and reform was car-bombed yesterday by the Indiana House minority. … If you want to know why Indiana’s economy fell behind, why state government is broke, broken, and awash in scandal, just look at [Democratic minority leader Pat] Bauer.’ He said Democrats didn’t have ‘the courage or conscience to stay at work’ and that he was ’embarrassed for them.’
“In 2011, Daniels’s rhetoric has been more conciliatory, likely because he knows from his experience in 2005 that he needs seven Democrats in the House to get anything done. Jim Geraghty asks, ‘If the Indiana House Democrats get what they want through this tactic, what’s to prevent them from using it again and again every time they think they’ll lose on a big issue?’ The answer is, they already have, and Republicans can’t do much about it. Indiana House speaker Brian Bosma admitted as much to Katrina Trinko. What Daniels seems to be hoping is that Democrats won’t walk out for an issue like education reform, which has broader public support, because he campaigned on it.
“Conservatives who criticize Daniels for his stance on the right-to-work legislation remind me a bit of liberals who called Obama a coward for abandoning the public option in 2010. Obama said often that single-payer health care was his preferred approach, but that he simply didn’t have the votes for it in the Senate. Daniels is, unfortunately, in a similar position in Indiana.”