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[cross-posted at DLCC.org]

The situation in Indiana continues to ferment.

Yesterday evening Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma unilaterally declared an end to negotiations and led a successful attempt to hike the daily fine on the House Democrats – who remain away from the statehouse to prevent a quorum – from $250 to $350. The increased fine will go into effect on Monday.

But don’t expect the increased penalty to cow the Democratic House members.

State Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, said on the House floor that won’t bring Democrats back.

“You can raise this but it will just raise our resolve,” Moses said as protesting union members cheered in the Statehouse hallway just outside the House chamber. “We will stay doing what we think is right no matter what number you put in there.”

House Minority Leader Pat Bauer echoed his colleague’s sentiments. From a statement he released today:

“Increasing our fines will only increase our resolve. Let us take more of the pain now so Hoosier families aren’t feeling the pain for years to come. The more Hoosiers learn about this agenda, the more they are grateful for the time-out that gave them the opportunity to examine it. But now the ball is in the majority caucus’s court. Democrats remain ready to negotiate and bring the quorum break to a close and move forward in a way that will help Hoosier jobs, wages and education rather than hurt them. I believe that by working together, Republican and Democrat alike, we can accomplish these things. But along with other legislators willing to take this tough stand, I await my colleagues across the aisle and Speaker Bosma to work with us in moving Indiana forward.”

The fine increase marked an abrupt end to what had seemed to be productive negotiations.

In a letter dated Wednesday, Bosma offered a concession on a divisive bill that could lead to the use of more non-union companies and workers for public construction projects. He also confirmed earlier concessions on other issues.

In a response delivered Thursday, [Minority Leader] Bauer praised the Republican’s “positive approach” and said that “with further discussions, I believe we could resolve these issues as soon as the early part of next week.”

Being reminded of positive progress and reasonable discussions with the Democrats must have spooked Speaker Bosma, since shortly after receiving this letter, he not only increased their fine, but also began considering harsher measures.

"We're strongly looking at an anti-bolting statute or a recall statute," Bosma said Wednesday.

The people of Indiana would be better served if Speaker Bosma and the rest of the House GOP were “strongly looking” at continuing the dialogue with House Democrats and arriving at a solution that doesn’t damage public education or eviscerate collective bargaining rights.

Originally posted to DLCC on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 03:26 PM PDT.

Also republished by Educator Voices.

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