[r79] Democrats Continue to Hide in Urbana (3/4/2011)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Start Date: 3/4/2011 All Day
End Date: 3/4/2011
Normally at this juncture in the legislative session, I would be highlighting legislation that has passed the House, what Senate bills are coming over to us for the second half of the session and a general wrap up of the session so far.  I would also emphasize a major bill or two and focus on its merits including why I support or oppose the issue. Unfortunately, the focus of this session hasn't been legislation or the unprecedented bipartisan efforts extended to the minority party by Speaker Bosma. Instead, the Democrats who are unable to debate legislation on the House floor have fled to Urbana, Illinois holding Indiana and the state legislature hostage. 

The Indiana House of Representatives has remained silent going on ten days now.  Our work is unfinished. Bills are dead. The legislative process has come to a halt. Why? Because the minority party has decided the time has come to change how a democracy operates.  If you watch the news, you will hear all kinds of "reasons" as to why the Democrats abandoned Indiana for Urbana.  You will hear them say they are "protecting the middle class," "stopping a radical, right-winged agenda" or "helping to save public education from those who hate kids and teachers." This is an abomination of the truth.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson penned these words in the Declaration of Independence: "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."  Our new nation started down an unchartered path.  We were not going to rely on a King, an Emperor, or a Czar to rule over us, we told the world that we can govern ourselves. We the people. The United States Constitution laid out the details of this grand experiment. When Indiana became a state, we followed the same path.  
Hoosiers should be represented on the House floor in Indiana, not in Illinois. The job of a state representative is to promote and defend the positions of their constituency and to work for the betterment of Indiana.  The democratic process is led by the majority and is rightfully held accountable.  The Democrat caucus was voted out of power November 2nd and now faces a changing landscape. They refuse to accept their role and have sought to abandon the democratic process in its entirety.  There are many critical issues that are before the House that cannot be discussed because 39 of the 40 Democrat members won't partake in fulfilling their civic duty to act on behalf of the people. 

No issue is too great to be considered by the legislative body. If an issue is one that would significantly change the course of history, the debate intensifies, the positions become more firm and the people become more engaged in the process, but ignoring the issues are irresponsible.  Consequently, if my position is not in tune with the governed, there is a solution: an election. 

My job as a legislator is to propose, debate and defend my positions.  My job is to show up on the house floor and join the debate.  My job is to vote "yes" or "no" on the proposed laws.  If I think the bills are short-sighted or dangerous, then I vote no and take my message to the people.  

The House Democrats have changed the rules.  They have chosen to flee rather than defend.  They have chosen to throw out sound bites on TV versus debate on the House floor.  Our state and our country has faced some very difficult issues over the past centuries, but those issues have been resolved or defeated on the floor of the people's House, not from a hotel room 120 miles away.

Some will say that the Republicans have done the same thing.  Yes they have, but two things to note.  They never walk out over policy; they walked out over violations of the rules.  They also returned before any legislation died. It is one thing to seriously spend time reviewing the impact of proposed legislation. It is a completely different issue when you run away to avoid a difficult vote.

The Democrats need to come back, defend and debate their position, vote yes or no on these issues and let the people decide in 2012 if we are on the right track.