You may not have heard much about it lately, but the state House Democrats in Indiana are still on the lam, shutting down a right-to-work law and, for the time being, much Gov. Mitch Daniels’ (R) education reform agenda (not to mention his presidential ambitions).
The Republican majority in the State House, cooling their heels in Indianapolis while their Democratic colleagues hunker down at a hotel in Urbana, Illinois, have now found a way to up the stakes: hit the Democrats right in their wallets. Starting Monday, the Democrats will face a fine of $250 for each day they stay away from the legislature.
The Democratic response? M’eh.
“We’ll pay these fines, and it’s worth it,” House Democratic Leader Patrick Bauer said, according to the Indianapolis Star. “It’s worth it for the kids. It’s worth it to keep our public schools open. And it’s a far less penalty than the hundreds of thousands of workers are going to be paying if (Republicans’) bills are passed.”
Republicans have already denied the Democrats their daily $152 paycheck. And as the Star reports, the threat of fines is just part of the legislative dance in Indiana when a minority bails to deny the majority a quorum and thus the ability to do just about anything.
In 1991, Democrats levied fines against Republicans for walking out, shutting down passage of a budget and new legislative district maps. Republicans at that time argued that the fines were partisan gamesmanship and questioned their constitutionality.
“It’s nothing more than political posturing,” said then-Republican House Leader Paul Mannweiler. “It certainly does not bring an agreement any closer.”
Then, in 1995, Mannweiler moved to fine Democrats for walking out.
In the end, neither party paid the fines.