Dems still missing; Brown says ‘may very well be Wisconsin’
By Jon Seidel, firstname.lastname@example.org February 22, 2011 9:36AM
Updated: February 22, 2011 4:35PM
INDIANAPOLIS — Republican attempts to get back to work in the state House of Representatives were thwarted Tuesday morning when their Democratic counterparts were a no-show.
Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, said members of her party were studying several amendments suggested for bills that include Indiana’s proposed two-year budget. She said no one has left town, but she wouldn’t say if Democratic lawmakers were in the building.
“This has become unfortunately one of the most partisan sessions that I have ever seen in the Statehouse,” Austin said. “Seventy-one percent of roll call votes have been party line votes, and for us, that’s simply unacceptable.”
A second quorum call, this time calling out legislators by name, also failed late Tuesday morning.
Democratic Rep. Charlie Brown of Gary, reached by phone, said he was waiting to learn how his caucus would proceed. He said it’s been a day of “hurry up and wait.”
“We may very well be a Wisconsin,” Brown said. “I don’t know.”
Wisconsin’s state legislature shut down last week. Its Senate Democrats fled the state and stalled a proposal that would cut off collective bargaining rights for public employees.
The Indiana House’s work was cut off Monday, also, when Democrats went into an extended caucus meeting.
Republicans hold a supermajority in the Senate, which means they can do business there without a single Democrat present. It stalled briefly Tuesday morning anyway, though.
Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, said her party took a moment to meet after it was told its staff members couldn’t record events in the chamber.
“We needed time to talk about that,” Tallian said.
Sen. Connie Lawson, R-Danville, said later an audio recorder would be allowed.
“We were unaware, and I think the doorkeepers were unaware, that their communications department had a tape recorder,” Lawson said, “but we told them it’s all right.”
Union workers continued to protest and sing in the halls outside both legislative chambers. Some in the gallery applauded when the House failed to achieve quorum at the start of its day for what Speaker Brian Bosma said was the first time he could recall.
Meanwhile, deadlines for legislation to move through the chambers are looming.
“There are a lot of critical issues that they are playing chicken with right now,” Bosma, an Indianapolis Republican, said.