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House Republicans vote to fine absent Democrats

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The Indiana House Republicans passed a motion Thursday fining the Democrats who fled to Illinois last week $250 a day until a quorum is present.

The motion was brought up after Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, took roll call and noted that only 60 representatives were present so there was no quorum to move forward with legislative business.

The motion says the absence of the Democrats has cost taxpayers $250,000 and disenfranchised residents. Any representative who doesn’t return to the House on March 7 will be fined $250 a day from their session allowance or annual salary until a quorum is present.

Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, said the Republicans are hesitant to censure the absent Democrats because that would stay in the record books. They hope that the amount of the fine will make the Democrats think of the need to be home and represent Hoosiers.

“Without a quorum, none of us can conduct the state’s business,” he said.

Reps. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, and Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, spoke out against the motion. Brown questioned where the fine will come from as Democrats have stopped taking their per diem since going to Illinois. Battles said the fine just creates a headline or a story and tries to cover up deeper issues. He wants both sides to address the chasm and for people to reach out and have discussions.

Brown took the floor again later to speak for the Democrats, saying they don’t want to come back to vote until some issues have been addressed. After he said that the fines mean absolutely nothing and they will disappear, Bosma interjected “I wouldn’t count on that,” leading Brown to become upset that Bosma interrupted him. Bosma apologized.

Less than an hour after the House reconvened for the day, the representatives passed the motion by a voice vote to fine the absent Democrats.

Before addressing the motion to fine missing Democratic representatives, Bosma announced that the deadlines for the second and third reading of bills has again been pushed back. The deadline had already been extended by a week and was set to expire today. The new deadline would be March 9 and is contingent upon a quorum being present to vote on the matter. Bosma said it would be the first order of business for the House once a quorum is present.

The House adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday.
 

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