Bosma To Fine Boycotting Democrats

Democrats Aren't Expected To Return Friday

Indiana's Republican House speaker said Thursday he's ready to start issuing fines of $250 against boycotting Democrats.

Most of the House Democrats skipped Thursday morning's floor session, extending their stay at an Urbana, Ill., hotel to an 11th day and preventing legislative action.

House Speaker Brian Bosma announced he'd been told by Democratic leader Patrick Bauer that the boycotting members wouldn't return Friday either.

Bosma said he wants to fine Democrats who stay away from the Statehouse $250 per day, starting Monday.

Assuming 35 Democrats continue to avoid attending, it would add up to $8,750 a day, in total.

"I would not want my name listed in the clerk's records of the Indiana House and the House Journal for posterity. It would very clearly describe the actions that have been taken and the cost to the taxpayer," Bosma said.

Talking with reporters by speakerphone from Illinois, Bauer said the fine destroys any progress that might have been made Friday. He said Democrats will continue their action to oppose what they believe are anti-worker and anti-schools bills from the Republicans.

"We'll pay those fines, and it's worth it. It's worth it for the kids. It's worth it to keep our public schools open," he said. "It's a far less penalty than the hundreds of thousands of workers are going to be paying if their bills are passed."

Because Bosma has already ended the absent Democrats' $150-a-day expense payments, the fine would make the total penalty $405 a day.

"Each of these members that are not present here represent something over 60,000 people who are being disenfranchised by their failure to be here to do the people's business," said Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel.

Democratic Rep. Kreg Battles of Vincennes said threatening fines won't help resolve the dispute over education and labor bills that prompted the boycott.

"This seems just to be one decision in a series of decisions that continue to divide instead of draw together. And, at some point, we're gonna have to stop the madness," he said.

Such fines have been threatened in previous House walkouts over the years, but have been waived when the minority party returns.