Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Indiana Braces for Wisconsin-Style Showdown over Union Bill - Again

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Indiana Braces for Wisconsin-Style Showdown over Union Bill - Again

Article excerpt

Indiana Democrats are refusing to allow the state's House to come to session because of the bill. They want Republicans to agree to hold public hearings on the issue around the state.

Democrats in Indiana are replaying a scene from last year by refusing to allow the state's House to come to session and vote on a controversial bill that they say will weaken unions.

The Indiana House returned Wednesday for a 10-week session. On the agenda: a so-called right-to-work bill that would ban negotiations between a union and company if workers are forced to pay fees for representation.

Democrats did not show up for the legislative session and instead remained in private meetings, which prevented the Republican majority from having a quorum to start the session. Indiana law is written so a quorum is needed for every vote, whether or not it involves spending money.

Democrats are hesitant to call their actions a walkout, a term that was last year when the same legislative proposal prompted the same lawmakers to flee to Illinois for five weeks. They returned once Republicans removed the bill from a vote in the 2011 legislative session.

This time around, Democrats will not return until Republicans agree to hold public hearings around the state, says minority leader Pat Bauer of South Bend. "It's a filibuster until we can get the truth. For now, it's about the bill," Representative Bauer told reporters Wednesday.

Bauer said that while their actions are indefinite, he and his colleagues have no intention of exiting the state.

How long they stay away is up to the public, says Brian Vargus, a political scientist at Indiana University in Indianapolis.

"You can't tell exactly how far [the Democrats] will go until you see more of the public reaction to them not showing up again," Mr. Vargus says. "It's impossible if it comes to any kind of vote. …

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