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Indiana House Democrats Will Return to Vote On Right-to-Work Amendment Calling for Public Vote

The ongoing boycott by House Democrats in Indiana over anti-union right-to-work legislation was theoretically made easier by this ruling from a state judge, blocking the seizing of legislator paychecks to cover the $1,000-a-day fines Republicans have recently imposed. This won’t stop the fines, but it tangles the issue of the fines up in court for some time. So the immediate issue of House Democrats losing their meager pay (they incredibly make only $22,616 a year) has been temporarily alleviated. So far, $3,000 in fines have been issued by Republicans during the boycott.

As for where we are on the bill, however, it looks like Democrats will go back to work on Monday, provided they get a vote on amendments to the bill.

House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said Democrats will return to the House on Monday, after using the weekend to ensure people know about their amendment that lets the controversial “right to work” legislation to be voted upon by the legislature, but it could be rescinded by voters in the November election.

“If you want to make it high noon Monday, we will be here,” Bauer thundered to the Republicans.

The decision came after an unusual and testy public negotiation before the House — with most Democrat seats still empty and Republicans groaning at what they saw as continued Democrat intransigience — House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, told Bauer he guaranteed Democrats could offer the amendment and it would not be ruled out of order.

When Bauer questioned whether other Republicans would challenge it, Bosma asked for any Republican representative who would do so to stand. No one did.

Under the Democratic amendment, the right-to-work law would take effect November 5 and expire November 7, 2012, unless voters agree to passage of the law through a referendum on November 6, the day of the Presidential election. And they’ll get a vote on Monday, but that’s obviously not a guarantee that they will get 10 Republicans to join them in passing it. I suspect that Brian Bosma would not allow the vote if he thought it could pass. Of course, Democrats could walk out again and deny a quorum before a final vote.

State Republicans are starting to show their frustrations, but they do appear to hold the upper hand, since Democrats are trying to straddle a line of reasonableness.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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