Gov. Mitch Daniels on Wednesday blasted House Democrats for refusing to vote on dozens of bills before a key deadline, saying they "car bombed" the state's "drive for growth and reform."
Daniels, reading a prepared statement at the Statehouse, said he believed Tuesday's floor boycott was planned from the start of the session.
"Indiana's drive for growth and reform was car bombed yesterday by the Indiana House minority," Daniels (pictured, left) said.
Daniels also took a swipe at House Minority Leader Pat Bauer, calling him a "throwback politician" who would put his party over jobs and reform.
"If you want to know why Indiana's economy fell behind, why state government is broke, broken, and awash in scandal, just look at Mr. Bauer," Daniels said.
Democrats, upset about several bills they consider partisan power grabs, left the House floor shortly after the chamber convened Tuesday and didn't return to vote on pending legislation. Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the House, but at least 67 members need to be present to conduct business.
House Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend
House Democrats said they had legitimate, philosophical reasons for blocking votes on bills before Tuesday's midnight deadline to advance the bills to the Senate. Among the bills derailed by the tactic was a provision to put all of Indiana on daylight-saving time.
Bauer was ill Wednesday and wasn't at a press conference held by House Democrats. But Rep. Russ Stillwell, D-Boonville, said Democrats had exercised their rights as the minority and representing their constituents.
"I'm offended that some people would call the leader of the Democrat caucus certain things when it's absolutely not true," Stillwell said. "Pat Bauer has served the state of Indiana admirably for 30 years."
It is possible many bills will be revived by amending them into legislation that is still alive, but procedural rules in the Senate make resurrection of the daylight-time proposal seem unlikely. That and a bill giving Daniels' inspector general power to prosecute government crimes when local prosecutors fail to file charges are among Daniels' top priorities.
Daniels said the inspector general bill is needed to help root out government corruption, but House Democrats say it would give the governor unprecedented power to stage partisan witch hunts.
Daniels said he tried to reach compromises with Democrats on some bills.
"Even through yesterday, I offered additional compromises, but every time, the goalpost was moved," he said.
The governor said it was hard for him to understand why House Democrats didn't have "the courage or conscience to stay at work" when Bauer led them off the floor.
"I guess they were just following orders," Daniels said. "I'm embarrassed for them, but it was their choice."
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