Democrats flee Indiana as controversial vote looms


by Mike Colombo

Posted on February 23, 2011 at 12:39 AM

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11)-- We're hearing from some of the Indiana democrats--who've fled the state! While union members and teachers protest in Indianapolis, house democrats left town Tuesday.

By leaving the state, the democrats can't be forced to show up at the state house and without them, there aren't enough house members to allow any bills to be passed.

The empty seats you see in the house are the democrats blocking the right to work bill by not being there. Where are they? Hiding out in central Illinois.

Meanwhile, outside the Indiana capitol, rallies and protests from union workers. They call the bill anti-union and anti-middle class.

The right to work bill would ban union memberships and fees from being a condition of employment. That's not going over well with the united food and commercial workers union.

"I don't understand why anyone would think a bill that damages wages for workers that much is good for the state of Indiana," said Caitlin Lally.

Supporters of the bill claim it would boost state business but it can't pass without the democrats and neither can anything else.

Republicans, including U.S. Senator Dan Coats, want the democrats to come back.

"You are voted into office to stand up and take responsibility for governing. Packing up and going to another state or hiding out so the legislature can't go forward is really a disservice to the voters,” Coats said.

Republican Governor Mitch Daniels has the authority to order state police to find the rogue lawmakers.

"I’m not sending the state police after anybody,” Daniels said. “I'm not going to divert a single trooper from their job of protecting the Indiana public. I'm trusting that people's consciousness will bring them back to work.”

This tactic is rare but not unheard of. Similar incidents took place in 2005, 1995, 1991, and 1975. As of now, the session is supposed to end April 29.
But Daniels can call a special session if there is unfinished business.