In a tribute to Abraham Lincoln — that Gettysburg Address, after all, was just over two minutes long — we’re going to be short and to the point on the end of the Statehouse walkout.
Who won? Don’t care. Although both sides will claim victories and the media will undoubtedly overanalyze the question.
Was it the right move by the House Democrats? We care a little more about this one than the previous question, but not much. At least not right now, although a move to prevent future such actions would be something good to look at.
What do we care about? Legislators going back to work, putting aside their differences and doing the job they were elected to do. There are too many important issues at stake. Sure, that starts with education policies that focus on the students in the schools, not the adults in the system. But it also includes plenty of jobs and economic growth legislation (part of the Chamber agenda to benefit all Hoosiers) that was caught in the crossfire and still may ultimately fall victim to a lack of time.
Lawmakers lost five weeks in which little was accomplished. They have less than five weeks remaining to reverse course and get the job done to the highest level of their abilities. That’s what truly matters. Let the work begin again.
It’s time for the rhetoric and political theater to stop. It’s time for members of the Indiana House to return to work and do the job – helping to govern our state – they were elected to do.
Over 250 pieces of legislation have come to a standstill because of the House Democrats’ walkout. Important proposals to grow our state’s economy, to create jobs, to keep the state fiscally sound – and to even pass a budget – are all in jeopardy.
The legislative proposals that led to the House shutdown:
Education reforms to improve teacher evaluations, introduce performance pay, limit collective bargaining to wages and benefits, and increase accountability. These should not be partisan issues at all. In fact, President Obama and leading groups like Democrats for Education Reform actually support these efforts.
Funding schools based on a per-pupil formula, not guaranteed funding levels at shrinking school districts.
School choice vouchers and expanded public charter school options, so Hoosier families can have more access to quality schools for their kids.
Protecting the rights of workers to secret ballot votes in union elections, a core democratic principle.
Open and fair competition for public construction projects. Just as public projects shouldn’t be forced to be non-union, they shouldn’t be forced to be "union only."
Right-to-work (which is now off the table this year), even though it’s the single most effective step Indiana could take to attract jobs and 70% of Hoosiers support it.
In other words, the House has been brought to a standstill to protect the status quo in K-12 education and to preserve special privileges and powers of organized labor. It’s as simple as that.
These are important issues and good and honorable people can disagree about them. However, the democratic process cannot work if elected officials refuse to participate in the process.
Call to action: Please take a moment to contact state representatives to tell them it is time to end this destructive walkout and get back to work. You can send a quick e-mail via our online grassroots system or call (800) 382-9842.
What a circus! And next week is shaping up to possibly be more of the same for Indiana’s House of Representatives. That’s a real shame because the House Democratic walkout jeopardizes a number of key bills that the Indiana Chamber believes would be extremely beneficial to Hoosiers. In fact, the Chamber has actively supported all 11 bills House Minority Leader Pat Bauer is demanding be defeated.
Among them, of course, is the right-to-work legislation that would give workers the choice of whether or not to join a union. There is overwhelming evidence that passing right-to-work this session would be the single biggest action to stimulate Indiana’s economy and bring more jobs to the state. Any policy that can do both of those things over the long term and has the support of seven out of every 10 voters deserves full consideration. Nonetheless, while disappointed, we respect the decision by House Speaker Brian Bosma to steer right-to-work to a study committee where legislators can continue the discussion this summer.
Right-to-work, though, was only one of the labor measures singled out by Bauer, while a collection of important education reform bills were also cited as reasons for the standoff. These education policies would: improve student outcomes and prepare students for the workforce; give parents of low-income students, in particular, more options for getting a quality education for their children; and allow more local managerial control in our schools.
These targeted bills – and nearly 50 in total – have been caught in the political crossfire and are now in limbo. On Thursday, the House Rules Committee voted to extend the deadline for bills to pass out of the House to next Friday (March 4). For the Rules Committee action to go into effect, the House must be able to vote on it – and a quorum of 67 members is needed for that.
The question is whether the House Democrats will reappear next week. It is certainly the Chamber’s hope that legislators return to work and put the best interest of all their constituents first. If they object to certain bills, they should show up, speak their mind and can vote against them. That’s how the process works. Then when election time comes, make their case to the voters. Activity coming to a screeching halt is not acceptable and is a disservice to all Hoosiers.