Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Indiana's Vanishing Democrats

...In a classic example of "Randian villain see, Randian villain do," the Democrat contingent in Indiana's House of Reprentatives has aped their fellows in Wisconsin, fled the state and blocked passage of a "Right To Work" bill.

Of course they went to Illinois.

Without a quorum, the bill died; it might come back as an amendment. I'm sure unions will stand House Dems gas money if it does.

It's not at all a new ploy in U.S. politics. This kind of thing isn't uncommon when one party has a majority insufficient to form a quorum and opposition wants to block legislation, though in recent years, it's become something of a Democrat specialty. (Our Republican governor, who in 2005 referred to a Democrat walkout as a "carbombing" of bills he'd been pushing, pointed out this time it was, "a perfectly legitimate part of the process." I tend to think of as more of a last-ditch but legal move.)

Right To Work would have made for interesting times in Indiana and might have helped balance our relatively high corporate taxes when new industry considered locating here. As the down economy continues, the proposal is likely to come back, sooner or later.

The bill would not have outlawed unions, only "closed shops." It made union membership an option instead of a requirement. If your local wasn't keeping you happy, you'd've been able to vote with your dollars; conversely, if your union can't attract voluntary members by the good it does for them, maybe it's not much of an advocate for the membership. But I guess the concept of getting people to shell out by providing some benefit to them in exchange, which works fine for endeavors from churches and Scouts to cosmetics manufacturers and fast food chains, is just too foreign to the thinking of union bosses.

And that should be a message in and of itself.


Standard Mischief said...

I've seen a lot of comments about how the walkouts are wrong, illegitimate, or unfair. They're of course unfair when the other party does it. I'm sure the naysayers are all "party before principle" people.

What we all should be remarking now is "Wow, so it's the Democrats that want to shut down government. eh?"

Remember, your civil rights are safer when the legislative branch is not in session.

perlhaqr said...

Standard: Nah, I think it's BS too, and I'm about as far from a "party" person as can be found.

And yes, civil rights are generally safer when the legislature is out to lunch, but in this case, we're looking at a "raise taxes (last year) and then freeze them there by not letting the people who want to lower them vote on it" thing.

Cancel the vote. Wait until the bums return. Schedule the vote again and have them all pre-emptively arrested as flight risks.

Frank W. James said...

Roberta: Your headline should read "Indiana's Vanishing LEGISLATORS" as the Republicans did the same thing in 2001 for pretty much the same reason.

Presonally, I agree completely with Standard Mischief. We are all better off when these guys are absent and do nothing.

I think it's a nice touch Indiana doesn't have a full time legislature otherwise guys from both parties would be residing in Illinois on a regular basis...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Crucis said...

Right-to-Work is coming to Missouri this year too. Fortunately, there are enough 'pubs in both houses to make a quorum and a 'pub Governor to boot.

Standard Mischief said...

Sweet, They'll run out of walking-around-money sooner or later.

Roberta X said...

Here in Indiana, our part-time legislators have to have some kind of day job, even if it's merely counting the money Mummy and Daddy left behind; and their party is pickin' up their IL hotel bill.

Like many other commenters, I am forced, however reluctantly on this issue, to concede that we're all better off when they're unable to pass more laws.

OTOH, the GOP has caved on Right To Work. The Dem response, after saying that was the sole and only issue over which they'd fled? "We have other demands." And they presented a shopping list of other proposed laws they dislike. Yeah? Then enjoy the Land'o'Lincoln and Rahm, jerks. Urbana is lovely in the mud season.

Standard Mischief said...

I has a bit of trouble figuring it out, but it does appear that while there isn't a super-majority 3/5ths quorum to do budget stuff, there is a quorum for other business.

Obviously, this would be a grand olde time to push a few sunshine gun laws through to the governor, but then again we're talking the stupid party here.

Anonymous said...

Do two things, one for this instance, one for future ones.

Most states allow the governor to call a session of the legislature. Set a reasonable time limit, and define a quorum based on the amount of legislators present after the time has expired. E.g. if you require 80% for a quorum, and only 70 of 100 respond within 48 hours of the governor calling a meeting of the legislature, then the amount needed for a quorum is 56. This even makes sense, as in the event of war or natural disaster, the government can't be shut down just because you can't find a few legislators. If the people who are then unrepresented as a result of their representative's willful lack of presence don't like it, they should take out their ire on the representative that refused to represent them.

For this particular instance, the governor can claim he's received reports that they are dead. He can require their personal appearance before him as the proof they are not actually dead, or a special election will be held to fill their vacant seats. CGI is so good these days no video can be accepted, as it could be faked. Can't accept witness testimony, as this is hearsay evidence, and the people involved may be part of a conspiracy to prevent the "dead" seat from being filled.