They went to Urbana, Illinois and now they are paying the price. In the most recent legislative session, Democrat Minority Leader, B. Patrick Bauer, of South Bend, led his fellow Democrats out of the state to, as he said, work on legislative bills that mattered to working people. The Republicans viewed it as a stall tactic to defeat bills offered by Governor Daniels and the Republican majority.
House Speaker, Brian Bosma, finally resorted to imposing a fine for every day the Democrats failed to appear in their house seats. 17th District State Representative Nancy Dembowski (D-Knox) was one of the members that followed the Democrat delegation to Urbana.
“Those of us who went and were gone for the full length of time were fined $3,100.” said Dembowski. “If you went back to sit in the chamber for a day or two, it was adjusted.”
Dembowski said that fines have been levied before, but this is the first time they have been collected.
“Fines have been assessed probably since the General Assembly began, by one party or another, when the minority party chooses to use this option which has always been an option that’s open to that minority party. But, the fines have never, ever been collected. This is the first time in the history of the General Assembly that they have ever been collected. There is some question as to whether or not that’s legal, but mine is nearly paid. It’s within a few hundred dollars.”
Dembowski said the bills the Republicans were considering were important to her, and she was just trying to help slow down the process. She was asked if she would do it again in light of the fines.
“If I’m willing to do what I thought was the right choice and it’s what I felt I needed to stand for, then I should not flinch in paying the fine.”