Being a Hoosier is something I take great pride in. Although, those that know me, know my alma mater is Purdue University and I am a diehard Boilermaker fan. But Indiana is my home and I am proud to be a Hoosier.
We have so much to be proud of in our Hoosier state, and not just because we have an Indiana college still in the Final Four basketball tournament-Go Butler Bulldogs!
We have a state that people want to live, work and raise a family in. We have strong history here and we manage to break records regularly. We have more students graduating from high school and college; more employers coming to create jobs; and the lowest tax system, than any of our neighboring states. Those are statistics are something to be proud of.
However, sometimes we make history for something we aren't exactly thrilled about. Making history for having the longest walkout, for example, 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 Legislatures. Since then, they have held the longest walkout in the history of the United States-that was, until last Wednesday when Indiana surpassed the Texas 30-day record.
I walked into the chamber on the first day of session, like I have had in previous years, with a passion to serve and a commitment to make a difference. And I took an oath, which read:
"I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Indiana and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge my duties as a member of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the State of Indiana to the best of my skill and ability, so help me God."
When I took that oath, I swore to the Hoosier voters, who put us in charge, I would focus on a balanced budget with no new taxes, create jobs and improve education-none of which I take lightly.
All 100 members of the Indiana General Assembly took that oath of responsibility-for our great state and for its Hoosiers.
By walking out on their responsibility, they not only walked out on the democratic process, but they have taken away my ability to serve my constituency.
Yes, we are continuing to hold committee hearings and are now participating in Senate committee hearings, but we are unable to vote, unable to move legislation and we are unable to help the Hoosier taxpayers that need our help.
Enough is enough, as I have previously said. I strongly encourage my Democrat counterparts to return to our great state, return to the chamber and return to their responsibility.
I have had many constituents contact me, asking me why can't we arrest the fleeing legislators to bring them back or why can't we have a law that prevents them from doing so.
My thoughts are why should we put public safety in jeopardy to round up legislators who have no desire to do as they were elected to do. Also, we have to consider that most of the Democrats that have left the state-making them completely out of reach of Indiana law enforcement.
We have been looking into a statute that was originated in 1867 called the "anti-bolting statute." This legislation put large fines on parties that walked out on their legislative duties, in addition to other penalties. The anti-bolting statute was repealed in 1976.
I think an anti-bolting statute would be beneficial to consider, to say the least, to prevent the minority party-no matter what their political affiliation is-from fleeing their responsibility. However, it is important to note, to pass any legislation in the House we must have a quorum, and until the Democrats return we are unable to pass this statute, let alone any other piece of legislation.
However, my top priority is completing our work on time; before the April 29 deadline.
As I previously stated, we are continuing our efforts and making the best of the current situation. That being said, I will continue to work for a balanced budget that includes no new taxes, in addition to creating a job-friendly environment for perspective employers and a public school system that helps our young students.
I took the oath to serve you, and that is exactly what I plan to do.