Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Democrats Issue List of Demands for Their Return; Expect Compromise to Be Reached

Former Speaker now Minority
Leader Patrick Bauer (D- South Bend)
Gary Welsh over at Advance Indiana has an interesting post about the walkout.  Gary has worked in the Illinois legislature as I have worked in the Indiana legislature.  Both of us realize that denying the majority a quorum to conduct business is a common legislative tactic that both sides practice, albeit on a very limited basis.  The Advance Indiana piece starts out talking about how wrong the Republicans are in insisting the the right to work legislation, which few, if any, GOP candidates ran on, be part of the legislative agenda.

Then Gary Welsh's position on the walkout abruptly changes when he posts an update on the post reflecting the fact that the Democrats demands are more than the right to work agenda:
UPDATE: House Democratic Leader Pat Bauer released a statement tonight listing many more demands than just dropping the right to work legislation. They want Republicans to drop education reform measures, including school vouchers and charter school initiatives opposed by teachers unions. They are also fighting an unemployment insurance bill that attempts to put the state on a footing to begin paying back the more than $2 billion debt the state owes the federal government because the state's unemployment trust fund is bankrupt. There are multiple legislative demands being made by the House Democrats, including the state budget bill. This tactic by the House Democrats is complete bullshit. Hey, you lost the election. You don't get to decide the entire legislative agenda. Earlier, Gov. Daniels believed House Democrats only walked to block vote on the right to work bill, but it is now quite clear the House Democrats are determined to block every single major reform measure proposed this session, effectively nullifying the election of a House Republican majority. This is nothing short of taking hostages like terrorists and demanding ransom be paid before they are willing to conduct the public's business. I believe the House should simply convene and conduct business without the quorum and let the Democrats take their case to the courts. The Speaker should immediately order the suspension of all salary and benefits to Democratic members of the House and their staff until they return for business. Boot the entire Democratic staff from the building and lock the doors to their offices until the Democratic members return. Let's not negotiate with terrorists....
Gary's post then goes on to provide a list of bills that Minority Leader Pat Bauer said that the Democrats are demand be killed:
HB 1002 (Charter School Expansion)

HB 1003 School Vouchers. School Vouchers. Allows a family of four making [under] $80,000 a year to receive taxpayer dollars to send their children to a private school

HB 1479  (Private Takeover of Public Schools. Allows the state of Indiana to take over poorly performing schools and for these schools to be managed by for-profit companies. It removes local decision making in schools.

HB 1584 (Public School Waiver of State Laws. Allows school boards to seek waivers of almost any school law or regulation.)
HB 1468 ("Right to Work.")

HB 1216 (Public Works Projects and Common Construction Wage)

HB 1203 (Employee Representations. Ends employee rights to join a union by secret ballot and opens employees up to retaliation and firing by an employer who finds out they are trying to use their right to bargain. This is preempted by federal law. Will require the state to use taxpayer dollars to defend this legislation.)

HB 1450 (Unemployment Insurance)

HB 1585 ( "Right to Work" for Public Employees. Removes collective bargaining rights at the local level.)

HB 1538 (Minimum Wages)

HB 1001 (Budget Bill)
My guess is the demand as to the additional bills is just a negotiating tactic by the Democrats.  I expect they will all return to work when the right to work bill is pulled from consideration.  And it will be pulled...not because of anything Governor Daniels has said (the Indiana General Assembly has rarely listened to the Governor's Office, which is, institutionally, one of the weakest in the country), but because the Democrats have the power to completely shut down the legislature.  Republicans have other bills they want passed and they won't want those bills to be sacrificed because of the right to work legislation which isn't a priority for many GOP legislators. The Democrats on the other hand will drop their walkout demand on the other bills, including the education reform measures.

That's what will happen. Bet the farm.

5 comments:

Advance Indiana said...

Paul, I think you underestimate how strongly they feel about the education reform measures opposed by the teachers unions. Democrats have relied heavily on contributions from the teachers union for their political campaigns and the union wants no part of those education reform bills. The question is how important are those bills to Gov. Daniels. He indicated earlier that was a big legislative priority. Let's see what he does now. He should not have been so quick to jump to the Democrats defense--he has no backed himself into a corner that has a lot of Republicans really angered with him. You can bet his comments yesterday will resonate across the country among the Republican faithful. Not exactly words that are likely to help his presidential ambitions. As Scott Fluhr wrote on his blog, Indiana House Democrats run away, Mitch Daniels run with them. This crap of walking off the job has got to end. The Democrats have pulled this stunt repeatedly over the years when they don't get their way. I'll bet money that someone outside of Indiana is funneling money into the State Democratic Party to pay for their extended stay in Illinois. I consider it a criminal act for elected representatives to be paid to hold up at a hotel outside the state when they are being paid as our state's elected representatives to conduct business at the State House.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I think Gov. Daniels got blindsided. I bet he had a cow when he saw the list of demands.

You have a point about the educational reforms, but I think in the end, they'll bend on those though. This is all about riling up the D's constituency for 2011 and 2012. They want to appear to be fighting for the cause against the evil Republicans. If the D's don't come back, then in the long run they could hurt themselves with the public. Short term...a walkout will be forgotten a few weeks after it happens. But if the walkout lasts a long time, that will be a different story.

Advance Indiana said...

Paul, I think they have to take a pretty strong stand on this. Just wait until the redistricting bill comes down. You'll see the Democrats stage yet another walk out claiming the districts are being drawn unfavorably, even though that's exactly what they did when they were in the majority. I think it is a mistake to fold quickly at their first threat because it's only going to embolden them to pull the same stunt repeatedly.

Cato said...

Gary said: "I consider it a criminal act for elected representatives to be paid to hold up at a hotel outside the state when they are being paid as our state's elected representatives to conduct business at the State House."

"Criminal," Gary? There's no crime without a victim, not an abstraction of a victim, an actual person with a name. There's no single person who is harmed by this action, so it perhaps reveals that well-known Republican punishment fetish to refer to a procedural tactic as a "crime."

If the Speaker wishes to censure or dock pay, that is certainly a permissible remedy to explore, but a "crime"? No, thanks. The Republicans' reflexive criminalization of everything and their adoration of the corporate prison system has given us the highest incarceration rate in the world and has made me reconsider whether Republicans are the less evil of the two major parties.

By the bye, the Democrats have been out of the state for, what, two days? Is it a crime for any rep. to miss two days' attendance at the Statehouse? If so, they're going to need a lot of handcuffs, on both sides of the aisle.

Cato said...

The Dems run a great risk if they walk out on every single bill.

The following two bills are good ideas that need to pass; the Dems risk being seen as the bad guys if they hold out over these fresh ideas:

HB 1002 (Charter School Expansion)

HB 1003 School Vouchers. School Vouchers. Allows a family of four making [under] $80,000 a year to receive taxpayer dollars to send their children to a private school

1479 would be more acceptable if the requirement for a for-profit vendor to run the school were removed. I don't think anyone wants to see the ilk of the University of Phoenix expand to elementary education.

HB 1479 (Private Takeover of Public Schools. Allows the state of Indiana to take over poorly performing schools and for these schools to be managed by for-profit companies. It removes local decision making in schools.