For the eighth day since the start of the 2012 Legislative Session, 35 of my House Democrat colleagues have refused to participate in the democratic process. As a result of their irresponsible and unacceptable actions, all 6.5 million Hoosiers are being denied representation. The minority members are railing against a single issue, but they’ve also stopped hundreds of other pieces of important legislation from moving forward. Veterans’ benefits, drug testing for welfare beneficiaries, and tougher sex trafficking laws are all on hold while these members continue their blatant disregard for democracy.
The Indiana House of Representatives requires a quorum of 67 members, or two-thirds of the House legislators, to be present to conduct business. The framers included this measure to keep two or three legislators from making decisions in the absence of other members. It was never intended for a small group to abuse this rule and halt the entire legislative process to protect one special interest. As I write this, the members of 99 minority parties in 50 other state legislatures across America are able to represent their constituents while still participating in our system of government; all except for 35 Indiana House Democrats.
Last week, Speaker Brian Bosma made a public agreement with Minority Leader Pat Bauer to debate amendments to the Right to Work bill on Tuesday. Keeping our side of the bargain, House Republicans were in our seats Tuesday ready to hear our colleagues’ ideas. Nearly every House Democrat was absent and, once again, the business of the people of Indiana was not heard on the House floor.
The time is long past for House Democrats to return to their seats and carry out their constitutional duties. We have been elected to be the voice of our constituents and we do not use mob rule to make decisions. Just because members from one side don’t get their way, they are not justified in silencing the voice of every Hoosier.