Labor

Indiana Democrats Stand for Something, Not Sure What It Is Yet

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Indianapolis experienced its heaviest influx of union protesters yesterday since House Democrats took off for Urbana two weeks ago. Union leaders tasked demonstrators with tying up local business and hoped for the largest protest crowd in state history, where they appear to have fallen short. The right-to-work law that started this brouhaha has been shelved, so what are the self-exiled legislators standing for, exactly? Matthew Tully of The Indianapolis Star reports: 

They definitely need the business.

Some of the Democrats' arguments make little sense. Indianapolis Rep. Gregory Porter, for example, was among a handful of lawmakers who told me they were protesting a bill that would allow the state to take over the state's worst-performing public schools. But the bill in question would only add to the landmark 1999 law that allowed such takeovers. Porter criticized the idea and said the issue would keep him in Urbana. But after being questioned, he acknowledged he co-authored the original bill that gave the state the authority to assume control of failing schools…

No endgame is in sight. Over and over, I asked Democrats what it would take to lure them back to the Statehouse. Some insisted Republicans would have to scrap huge chunks of their legislative agenda, which is unlikely. Others offered more ambiguous answers, vaguely demanding "compromise."

The remaining agenda to which Democrats are opposed includes reducing teachers' collective bargaining rights to wages and benefits, a voucher bill, and rolling back preferences for unions in public works hiring. The alternative program they offer appears to be "fighting" (rather than fleeing).

House Democrats spent Wednesday evening's "Tele TownHall" conference call accentuating the positive from their rooms at the Urbana Comfort Suites. Matt Pierce (Bloomington) pointed out "we're actually saving taxpayers money the longer we're here," since the exiles aren't receiving their per diems. Scott Pelath (Michigan City) called it a "great moment in Indiana history that 39 people have stood up" and taken time from from families and jobs to delay legislative action.  Vern Smith (Gary) expressed concern with education reform, wondering if it is "really for the rich, because at present (the bill) allows vouchers to be issued to families that are making as much as $81,000." Minority Leader Pat Bauer (South Bend) called the Democrats' flight a "timeout," for the purpose of educating everyone, including themselves, on the GOP agenda.

Meanwhile, Indiana's House Republicans held a sing-in: 

More from Reason on unions here.

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  1. Great billboard. Look! It’s the Emerald City!

  2. I can’t help but think all the fleebagging and rent-a-mobs must be damaging the Dem brand with independents. But maybe I’m being optimistic that people look at these temper tantrums and think “Hmm. Maybe not who we want in charge.”

    1. I can’t help but think all the fleebagging and rent-a-mobs must be damaging the Dem brand with independents. But maybe I’m being optimistic that people look at these temper tantrums and think “Hmm. Maybe not who we want in charge.”

      Why would independents side with the Dems on this?

      1. A lot of independents get their news from the MSM, which will certainly put as positive a spin on the hide-and-seek as possible, and definitely won’t explain the origin of the protest mobs.

        1. I caught a couple of second of MSNBC while i was channel surfing on the treadmill yesterday. The reporter was in front of a crowd of protesters saying that “we have been taking and taking from these people over the past 10 years”…

          1. I used to think the idea of liberal media bias was laughable. I mean, the MSM was kissing George Bush’s ass as recently as 2004. It seemed like they had more of a GreatLeader fetish, largely because GreatLeaders doing GreatThings make for simple, easy to write stories that require little research, while the complex machinations of the free market and grassroots organizations are comparatively difficult to disentangle and understand.

            But now it’s just gotten so blatant since 2008. And it’s not because my politics have changed, I’m essentially the same political animal I was in 1998.

        2. A lot of independents get their news from the MSM, …

          Not quibbling…what makes you think independents go for the MSM?

          1. Well, they probably don’t go for FoxNews, and the penetration of alternative media is not very far into the population as a whole.

            Admittedly, I don’t have stats to back this statement up, but it seems plausible.

  3. I wonder if Pat Quinn will list “Home of fleeing Democrat state representatives” on his list of accomplishment. It’s the only economic activity that has increased in Illinois since he took office.

    1. Well after yesterday’s signing of the Amazon tax (taxing online purchases in the state), he’ll certainly be referring to Illinois as the former home to many fleeing businesses.

      Maybe Illinois can become the nation’s dumping ground old, used up political ideas–and the people who love them.

      1. Never thought I’d look back at the Thompson-Edgar era as a golden age for my home state, but alas.

  4. Fucking A, Indiana’s economy really is in the shitter. $81,000 for an entire family is rich now. I had no idea things had gotten so bad, that two adults working jobs paying $40,500 a year are now to be envied.

    1. The median family income in the US is only about $65k. However, I have no problem with issuing vouchers to families making any amount of money.

      1. Only if the voucher amount is subtracted from the budget of the public school they’re fleeing.

    2. I’m guessing that the cost of living is much lower in Indiana than where you live.

      I live in Illinois (near Chicago) and when I went to a convention in Indianoplis, I was shocked to find free parking in the down town area a few blocks from their capitol building and the stadium the Colts play in.

      1. That’s not a product of a lower cost of living in Indiana, but a product of an insane cost of living in and around Chicago.

  5. I am reminded of all the rah-rah kids in junior high that are all for “group decision making” until the group decides to do something the rah-rah kids don’t like. So they snarl and slink off to a corner and refuse to participate.

  6. wondering if it is “really for the rich, because at present (the bill) allows vouchers to be issued to families that are making as much as $81,000.”

    This is why Gary is such a shithole. A couple making 40 grand apiece are considered “rich”. So that couple would flee Gary at their earliest opportunity.

  7. They gotta get out by May, those room rates get pretty high around graduation time.

  8. I’d like to see some cash flow research on how the WI and IN Dems are paying for their rooms, food, etc. Even in budget hotels and cheap restaurants, a few weeks on the road is going to get expensive.

    If outside individuals or groups are covering their expenses, could this be considered illegal contributions? The Kenosha WI County Exec went to jail because a local businessman handed him illegal cash. How would this be different?

  9. Video town hall from the Comfort Suites versus a Republican sing-in? O.M.G.

  10. Even if we consider $81,000 a year rich, why is giving rich people vouchers a bad thing? Are rich people not entitled to the same public education opportunities that poor people are?

  11. Is every Dem contingent of every GOP-majority legislature going to flee their state? Seriously, this is not adult behavior.

    1. Dissent is the highest form of patriotism (now that Republicans have some power again).

  12. If outside individuals or groups are covering their expenses, could this be considered illegal contributions?

    In Wisconsin, absolutely. WI has very strict ethics laws that basically prohibit giving anything of value to an elected official.

    One hopes that there will be an investigation, because I think its highly unlikely that all this is being paid out of the legislator’s own pockets. I suppose the Democratic Party could pay for it, but it would be interesting to know if it is being used to launder union payments for fleebagging.

  13. Is every Dem contingent of every GOP-majority legislature going to flee their state? Seriously, this is not adult behavior.

    Texas has a bill, which will almost certainly pass, to subtract any legislators who are out of state from the required quorum. Nicely done, IMO – it makes fleebagging a pointless gesture, since it can’t stop the legislature from passing bills.

    1. Neat idea, but how do you confirm that they’re out of state? It also doesn’t prevent them from hiding in-state.

      I would prefer a rule that removes the quorum requirement 72 hours after notice has been given to absent legislators that the chamber is in session. This would preserve the purpose of a quorum (to prevent surprise votes) while making fleebagging pointless.

      1. If they’re hiding in-state they presumably can be found by the state troopers.

        But your idea is better.

  14. Actually, a little hot, sweaty Google action reveals it would be a constitutional amendment.

    I like it, if only for the political theater it would provoke. Representatives would either have to (pointlessly) leave the state, or risk being perp-walked on camera back into the statehouse. Anything that leads to lawmakers being hustled along by law enforcement is a good thing, IMO.

    1. I’m sure the lefty message machine could make some serious hay out of video of police dragging peaceful Democratic legislators into the chamber at the behest of the eeeeeeeevil Republicans.

  15. Many of these bills sound goodly, but I’m very glad Right-to-Work has been shelved. I’m no fan of Big Labor, but the government has no right to interfere in a relationship between two private entities.

    1. How does Right-to-Work interfere with the relationship? Workers can still join a union under RTW, they just can’t be forced to join the union as a condition of employment. In states with “closed shops”, if you don’t pay your union dues you get fired.

  16. How does Right-to-Work interfere with the relationship? Workers can still join a union under RTW, they just can’t be forced to join the union as a condition of employment. In states with “closed shops”, if you don’t pay your union dues you get fired.

    If the union has a contract with an employer to have a closed shop, the contract should be enforced.

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