The Circus Continues: What the House Standoff Means

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.