INDIANAPOLIS Indiana House Democrats stayed away from their desks for a second day on Wednesday in an attempt to block a proposed law curbing union power, prompting Gov. Mitch Daniels to say they were showing "complete contempt" for the Democratic process.
"You know, if they persist, the Democratic Party of Indiana will need a rebranding effort because this is as anti-democratic as behavior can be," Republican Daniels said.
Like their counterparts in Wisconsin, most House Democrats left Indiana for Illinois to prevent the Indiana house from voting on "right-to-work" and other Republican-sponsored legislation. The measure would have made it a misdemeanor for an employer to require workers to become or stay members of a labor union.
Because of their absence, the right-to-work bill died Tuesday night and will be "studied" for a year before the legislature looks at it again, according to Senate President Pro Tempore David Long.
The actions by Indiana legislators mimic what happened in Wisconsin, where senate Democrats have stayed away from the Capitol to avoid voting on legislation that would limit collective bargaining rights for state workers.
Indiana House Democrats, outnumbered by Republicans 60-40, insist their problems with the state's Republicans go beyond the right-to-work issue.
"The past few days have seen an unprecedented attack on Hoosier families by a radical House Republican agenda that will hurt millions in both the classroom and the pocketbook," the Democrats said in a statement released from their out-of-state meetings.
A statement listed four education bills and six labor initiatives that they found unacceptable.
Daniels said he hopes that having made their point and scoring a victory on a big issue, Democrats will come back to work. "Let's do the people's business, together," Daniels said.
(Reporting by Susan Guyett; editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)