Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Right to Work Dead for Now

The so-called “Right to Work” bill is dead for now in the Indiana General Assembly, but the same questions remain for the Republican majority: when the 40 Democrats return, will the Republican caucus even care about the wishes of 40 percent of the Indiana House and those constituents they represent?

The health care bill that Republicans and conservatives often point to as being rammed through the Congress at the federal level contained 200 Republican-pushed amendments in the final bill. It was not the sweeping single-payer health care system so many liberals pushed for. Instead, it was a compromised bill that got no support from Republicans.

Indiana House Republicans decided at some point that their agenda was good enough, and no input was necessary from Dems. If the Governor wanted it or some constituency group thought it was a good idea, it was going through. The Democrats took it for a few weeks, but they decided enough was enough.

It is a good gamble. Democrats currently hold no statewide executive offices. They currently hold just 13 seats in the Indiana Senate and 40 in the Indiana House. They had become insignificant in the Republicans’ eyes. Well, their actions along with the actions of tens of thousands of union workers may have shuttered Right to Work for now in Indiana.

More massive legislative changes are on the way with everything from an education voucher bill (which has significant Republican opposition) to redistricting in the works. Whether Bosma wants to fine or censure or revoke the per diem of Indiana House Democrats or not, he’s going to have to pay a little more attention to that side of the aisle, now.

His Senate counterpart, President Pro Tempore David Long, has backed away from Right to Work calling it a “mistake” according to Politico. He apparently plans to assign it to a committee for study. If the Democrats had not done what they did or the protesters had not shown up, would he have said this?

Many on the right have begun to call the Indiana House Democrats the “caucus of no.” On the contrary, I think they are the “caucus of no way.” By that I mean that Democrats are flatly saying in one clear voice that the conduct of the Republicans is simply not acceptable, and it’s not the way that business has been done in the Indiana House for years.

Besides, Republicans have walked out before and so have the Democrats. It’s not like this is a new tactic.

Now, it’s time to get back to work in Indiana. I hope that Democrats come back soon so that the heavy lifting that is necessary to occur here in the state capital can get done.

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