[r31] Here to work, here to stay (3/23/2011)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Start Date: 3/23/2011 All Day
End Date: 3/23/2011

Monday marked the fifth week of the Democrat walkout. Many of our leaders have used the word "unprecedented" to describe the walkout, and I agree. However, several other words come to my mind when thinking of what has occurred: disappointing, disrespectful and outlandish, to name a few. 

I would consider this legislative session to be "disappointing" because we have more than 39 state legislators who have walked out on their responsibility, only to slap the democratic process in the face. "Disrespectful" because they have taken away the voice of all Hoosiers, Democrat and Republican, by not being present to conduct state business. "Outlandish" because a walkout of this magnitude has never occurred in state history.

I love being a Hoosier and I know that Hoosiers take pride in our great state-our history for basketball, our pride for Indy racing and our love for Hoosier hospitality, among other things.

We break records and make history all the time. But making history for having the longest walkout is not something we should be proud of, let alone want to be a part of. In 2003 Texas legislators walked out of session for 30 days - according to National Conference of State Legislators they have the longest walkout in the History of the United States. If the House Democrats don't return to duty on Wednesday, Indiana will now hold this record - a record that we don't want to hold.

I walked into the chamber on the first day of session with a passion to serve and a commitment to make a difference. Hoosier voters put us in charge to focus on a balanced budget with no new taxes, create jobs and improve education-none of which I take lightly.

I have spent the past few months working toward those goals by talking to constituents and meeting with local and state officials. I have been here working for those that I represent, that elected me into my respected position. However, the poor decisions spoiled it for many.

As a plan of action, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long constructed a plan to ensure all members present and willing to work will be a part of the legislative process. They have asked that we be part of the Senate committee hearings that are currently taking place. In addition, the House is holding informal meetings of their own, taking testimony and studying the Senate bills that have been waiting for us to begin hearing since the Democrats left.

We are able to participate in committee meetings and contribute our opinions, we just can't vote on legislation.

Again, this was not what I expected when I came into the House chamber in January. But we are doing what we can to make the best of the current situation. We are here to work and we are here to stay. If the Democrats want changes to the current proposed legislation, they need to do their part in the democratic process.