(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Democrats are nowhere to be found in Indiana.
Many party members left the state Tuesday to avoid a vote on a right-to-work bill in the House of Representatives. Without more than two-thirds of House members in attendance, there cannot be any votes.
Opponents call House Bill 1468 union busting. If passed into law, it would outlaw requiring workers to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.
During an afternoon statement outside his office, Governor Mitch Daniels admonished Republicans almost as much as Democrats.
“I thought there was a better time and place to have this very important and legitimate issue raised,” Daniels said, adding there were other items on his agenda more important to accomplish during this year’s legislative session.
The governor said he will not order Indiana State Police to seek out and return those missing lawmakers. Many are in Illinois and Kentucky anyways, where the state police cannot force them to return to work.
Democrats say they won’t come back to Indianapolis until the right-to-work bill is dead. Daniels held out hope that it would be sooner.
“I’m not going to divert a single trooper from their job protecting the Indiana public. I trust that the people’s consciences will bring them back to work. I choose to believe that our friends in the minority, having made their point, will come back and do their duty, the jobs that they are paid to do,” he said.
Indiana Democrat chairman Dan Parker warned the GOP about pushing the envelope on right to work this week.
“If the Governor says it has no place, Republicans ought to listen,” Parker said in a statement. “The fact that they’re going forward with their anti-worker agenda either means Mitch Daniels’ words have no meaning within his own party or he’s merely paying lip service to the issue while Republicans run amok at the Statehouse.”
Although the opponents who could vote on HB 1468 were not in the Indiana Statehouse Tuesday, thousands of their backers were. The halls and atrium have been filled with union members all week.
The AFL-CIO has various rallies planned for Wednesday including gatherings outside the House chambers and a candlelight vigil outside the statehouse.
Two local House members did report for work Tuesday. Freshman Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) said 22 bills impacting retired teachers and unemployed Hoosiers will die without a vote.
“We are here to work, we were elected to work and we want to work. It is disappointing that the Democrats are stopping us from working for the people. We lack a quorum, because the Democrats have not shown up,” McMillin said.
Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) echoed those sentiments.
“I am incredibly disappointed with the behavior of the Democrats today. We have continuously extended a bipartisan hand under the leadership of Speaker Bosma, yet the actions of the Democrats this week have curtailed such a gesture. Hoosiers have bestowed the responsibility to act on their behalf, and it is frustrating to not exercise the will of the people,” said Frye.