The Indiana House Democrats did not relent in their boycott of the legislative session, sitting it out in caucus as the deadline to vote on bills expired. The Star's update. In order to kill two bills, they took down 132.
House Democrats were so opposed to bills creating an inspector general for the governor and requiring voters to show ID at the polls that they sacrificed 130 other bills during the 15-hour standoff. They sacrificed, for example, a plan to help fellow Democrat and Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson build a new Colts football stadium with state money.
"There are some issues so important that they're worth standing up and fighting for," said Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, who took to the floor just after 9 p.m. to report the concerns of his caucus.
The problem with this is that the Dems just didn't get anything as a result of their antics. Sure, they took down the two items they opposed, but had they negotiated, they could have done that and more, getting some things they wanted in other bills. All they did was show that they were willing to go to the wall. Now what?
Well, the Senate takes over. The Senate has a very comfortable Republican majority, which if I'm not mistaken, is large enough to ram through any bill it wants to. All the Senate needs to do now to get what the House Democrats tried to block is to amend a surviving bill to include those items.
We call this a zero sum game.
I have to think that Pat Bauer and the Democratic leadership believes that there will not be a backlash against his party in 2006, when voters return to the polls. The next general election is more than 20 months away, and the turnout for that cycle is usually very low. No need to worry about accountability under such circumstances. In the meantime, it's probably a first-class hoot for Democrats to watch Republicans howl.
I would like to point out that if Libertarians were in the House, we would not boycott the proceedings. We would work to build a coalition of opposition sufficient to defeat measures we disapprove of. We would speak on the floor to our objections. We would vote against objectionable bills. We might lose some votes, but we would be moving the business along.
It is uncommon that I completely agree with a Star editorial, but here it is:
By late afternoon Tuesday, any sympathy earned in recent weeks by Democrats in the Indiana House had been exhausted.
Instead, Minority Leader Pat Bauer and his stubborn band of followers unintentionally reminded Hoosiers why voters had turned Democrats out of power in November.
Partisanship. Pettiness. Short-sightedness. Bauer managed to put all of his lesser qualities on display this week by keeping his caucus off the House floor for the better part of two days. The resulting lack of a quorum wasted lawmakers' time and taxpayers' money. And it endangered important pieces of legislation for no justifiable reason.
Almost two months remain in a legislative session that started off with great promise. It's time to stop the silliness in the Statehouse and move ahead with fixing a state government that hasn't functioned properly in years.