The 37 missing Democrats were holed up together Tuesday night at a hotel in Urbana, Ill., and would not say when they will return to Indiana.
“I don’t know when we’ll come back,” said Rep. Gail Riecken, D-Evansville. “We’ve been pushed with our backs against the wall, and it’s time for them to listen to us.”
After Democrats sent back a list of 11 bills to which they object, though, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, did not sound interested in listening.
“This is the most ludicrous political stunt I have ever seen,” he said. “Let them stay in Illinois. They’ll fit right in. Maybe they can vote for a couple of tax increases while they’re over there.”
Democrats left the Statehouse as hundreds of labor union members rallied for the second straight day. They held signs, chanted and marched around the House and Senate chambers.
Drawing most of their ire was a measure that proponents call “right to work.” It would allow workers to opt out of paying union dues – a move, protesters said, that would undermine those unions’ funding and negotiating power.
They also objected to several other labor-related measures and to most of Daniels’ education reforms – especially one that would limit the scope of teachers’ collective bargaining rights.
Democrats cited those bills as well, saying they want them killed for the rest of the session, or else they might not return. And Nancy Guyott, the Indiana State AFL-CIO president, said the union protesters approve of Democrats’ tactics.
Late Tuesday night, Bosma learned that Democrats had left the state, and was handed the list of bills from House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, at the same time.
“Maybe voters need to go over there, drag them back here and get them to do their jobs,” Bosma said. “They need to get their butts back here.”
Or, he said, there is another option.
“They should step down. I mean it. If they’re not willing to do their work here and they’re leaving the state, they should vacate the office and let replacements who are willing to come here and do the people’s business be selected,” Bosma said.