Democrats protest after Republicans ram right-to-work through House committee

2012-01-11T00:00:00Z 2012-02-11T03:49:45Z Democrats protest after Republicans ram right-to-work through House committeeBy Dan Carden, (317) 637-9078
January 11, 2012 12:00 am  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Democrats resumed their boycott of Indiana House sessions Tuesday after the Republican-controlled labor committee approved right-to-work legislation in six minutes without public testimony, committee debate or amendments.

"Every single action they took is a flagrant violation of both the Constitution and the rules, and we cannot let that stand," said Democratic leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend.

In addition to denying a quorum for a fourth session day out of five, Bauer also filed a protest with House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, accusing the committee chairman, state Rep. Douglas Gutwein, R-Francesville, of failing to follow proper committee protocol and procedure.

Bosma said Gutwein's actions were acceptable under House rules and said as chairman, Gutwein has wide discretion to run the committee.

"He did what he felt was appropriate," Bosma said.

During the committee hearing, state Rep. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend, repeatedly asked Gutwein to permit a vote on several proposed amendments to House Bill 1001.

But rather than consider the amendments as committees typically do, Gutwein spoke over Niezgodski and ordered the committee to vote on the overall right-to-work proposal without changes.

The eight committee Republicans voted for the measure while the five Democrats voted no.

House Bill 1001 now advances to the full House, where Bosma said he'll allow Democrats to present any amendments they'd like.

Bauer said Democrats will decide on a day-by-day basis whether they will attend House sessions. Without at least seven of the 40 Democrats in attendance, the House lacks enough members to take legislative action.

Under a right-to-work law, a business that contracts with a union to require nonunion members pay fees for union services is subject to civil and criminal penalties. Many Republicans believe the policy will attract jobs to Indiana, while Democrats say right-to-work is intended to weaken unions. 

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