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Indiana GOP Wants Absent Dems Punished

INDIANAPOLIS (CBS/WBBM) -- Indiana Republicans are looking at some changes in state law to deal with democrats who have been hiding out in Illinois for about a month to deny the state House of Representatives a quorum.

As WBBM Newsradio 780's Mike Krauser reports, the Republicans are looking to pass an anti-bolting law. Indiana once had such a law on the books, but it was repealed in 1976, the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune reported.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780's Mike Krauser reports


If passed, the measure would fine lawmakers $1,000 a day for denying a quorum.

But the Republicans could not pass the law now. They can't pass anything, because they're short a handful of Democrats.

Legislation in Indiana has a shelf-life, so Republicans keep moving legislative deadlines to prevent bills from dying, the Post-Tribune reported.

The latest deadline is set for March 31. But even that needs the votes of some Democrats, the Post-Tribune reported.

As it is, the Democrats are being fined $250 per day while they are out of the state, the newspaper reported. The Republicans threatened to raise the fine to $350 if Democrats didn't' return, but Senate Democratic Leader Rep. B. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend) said an agreement could be reached next week, the Post-Tribune reported.

There is also talk of giving voters the power to recall lawmakers. The Post-Tribune reports state Rep. Dan Stevenson (D-Highland) proposed a recall bill earlier this year, but now he is across the border in Illinois.

The Indiana Democrats are in Urbana to forestall a vote on a "right to work" bill. Protests erupted in Indianapolis last month, after a House committee passed the bill.

If approved, the bill would prohibit union membership and fees from being a condition of employment. Union activists say the bill is aimed at weakening unions and would drive down wages.

In a similar situation, Democrats in Wisconsin left for three weeks and camped out in Illinois to forestall a vote on a budget plan that stripped state employees of collective bargaining rights.

First, Senate Republicans declared the Democrats in contempt and Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said police might be sent out to bring them back. But later, the Republicans found a way to pass the bill curbing unions without the Democrats.

The Wisconsin Democrats have now returned to Madison, and are seeking to challenge the Republicans' actions in court.

Protests against state legislative measures have erupted in many states over the past month. The latest is Michigan, where 14 people were arrested Wednesday during a protest in the state Capitol.

The Michigan protesters are demonstrating against Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed budget, and a package of bills that have now given emergency financial managers broad powers to take control of struggling municipalities and school districts. Snyder signed those bills into law Wednesday, WWJ-950 AM, Detroit, reported.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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