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Daniels: GOP Won't Be "Bullied" By House Democrats

Democratic members of the Indiana House of Representatives remain holed up in an Illinois hotel, where they’re protesting the Republican majority’s legislative agenda. The boycott that stalled House business was triggered by committee passage of a GOP measure that would prohibit companies from requiring union membership or fees as a condition of employment. Democrats say the bill would weaken labor unions and drive down wages. The GOP says it would spureconomic development. The GOP has since said it would not pursue the bill this session, but Democrats say they want concessions on measures involving other labor issues and education.Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma says he’s mulling his options to force the Democrats back to the chamber."Many people have asked why are we being paid, why are members being paid when they’re not here. That is being explored. You’re aware under our rules that we have the ability to fine, censure or call members back. All these options are being examined," he said.The Democrats have submitted a list of eleven legislative demands for their return, which Republican leaders have rejected.Bosma said Wednesday morning he had a phone conversation with House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer about conditions under which Democrats would return to the Statehouse.The speaker recalled the story of a World War Two general given an ultimatum by Germans to surrender. "Brigadier General McAuliffe issued a one word response which I shared with Rep. Bauer this morning. The one word response was ‘nuts.’ We will not concede to a list of demands from those who have vacated this state,' he said. Rep. Terri Austin is one of the three Democratic House members still at the Capitol.   She says her colleagues who have fled are not shirking their duties."Democrats are in what I would say is a caucus, and they are continuing to look at these issues, to talk among themselves, what are some possible solutions and compromises to some of these more onerous pieces of legislation," Austin told Indiana Public Radio.Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels has taken a harder stand against the boycotting Democrats than earlier displayed, saying the GOP won’t be “bullied or blackmailed" out of pursuing its agenda.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.