The Senate inserted language into the budget Wednesday aimed at preventing another walkout similar to what the House Democrats did earlier in the session.
Indianapolis Senator Mike Young offered the amendment allowing citizens to sue in civil court if their representatives fail to show up for session more than three consecutive days without an excused absence. The penalty can be up to one thousand dollars per day. Young said legislators shirking their duty cannot be tolerated.
“And then I choose willingly to run away from my duty and not to show up and cast a vote and let my voice be heard on behalf of the people of the district I represent. I don’t even think this fine is high enough,” said Young.
But Senate Democrats say preventing a quorum is a constitutional right. Portage Senator Karen Tallian said the amendment is a mess.
“This is an ill-conceived vendetta to try to punish anyone who’s not in the majority,” said Tallian.
House Speaker Brian Bosma says the amendment could lead to problems in the House. “It might scratch a few scabs open and that’s maybe not the best thing right now.”
But Bosma said constituents have been asking Republicans for some sort of anti-bolting law since House Democrats walked out in February. House Minority Leader Pat Bauer said it’s clear Republicans care more about punishing Democrats than real issues like creating jobs.
“I don’t know, what do you do for people who are just out of whack with the problems of the state? They’re just out of whack!”
The amendment passed unanimously after Senate Democrats walked off the floor in protest. The budget still has to pass the Senate and be approved by the House.