INDIANAPOLIS | Some 45 Indiana Tea Party supporters gathered at the Statehouse on Friday to demand House Democrats return from Illinois and get back to work.
"I don't think you should use dirty tricks to stop things from happening," said Brian Smith, of Indianapolis, who plans to move to Northwest Indiana this summer.
Smith stood on the east Statehouse steps at lunchtime Friday with his wife, Amanda, and daughter Abigail, 5. He said he wants the House to act on House Bill 1003, which would give him state funds to send his daughter to a private school.
"As Obama said, elections have consequences," Smith said. "They should be back here to do their jobs."
House Democrats left Indiana for Urbana, Ill., on Tuesday, a move that has prevented the Republican-controlled House from having enough representatives present to take action.
The Democrats' departure was the subject of several Tea Party signs, including "Flee-baggers where are you?," "Flee and betray" and "House Democrats = Radical Fleehadists."
But the Tea Party protesters did not have the Statehouse all to themselves.
Inside the north atrium some 300 union members attended the daily Stand Up for Hoosiers rally. Attendance was down because the House was not in session, but union leaders expect a huge crowd again Monday.
About 25 union workers stood outside the Statehouse some 20 feet away from the Tea Party supporters. The two groups exchanged words from time to time but mostly kept to themselves as State Capitol Police watched nearby.
Trent Short, of Terre Haute, a member of Laborers' International Union Local 204, held a sign saying "The Tea Party is Un-American."
Short said he and his wife, a union teacher, stand to lose thousands of dollars in income if the Republican-controlled General Assembly limits their collective bargaining rights.
Ironically, both union members and Tea Party supporters held signs reading "Don't Tread on Me."
Union leaders said, like the Tea Party, they also don't want the government interfering in their economic affairs, by restricting bargaining rights. Tea Party members use the slogan to signal opposition to taxes and government spending.