Every time Indiana lawmakers walk out on their responsibilities at the legislature — yes, it has happened before, and has been done by both parties — Hoosier taxpayers are justified in asking the no-shows just why they are being paid for these juvenile antics.

The people of Indiana elect their lawmakers to go to Indianapolis to create a budget and pass needed legislation, and not to run off to a motel in Urbana, Ill.

But that is exactly what happened this week when Democrats, already downsized by voters to minority status, didn't show up for work on Tuesday and were still holding out in Illinois late in the week.

The Dems' walkout was intended to prevent House passage of right-to-work legislation, which would allow workers to opt out of paying union dues should they choose. And it worked, for now.

House Republicans might have headed off this ridiculous standoff by declining to bring up right-to-work. Gov. Mitch Daniels had warned fellow Republicans weeks ago that bringing up right-to-work might scuttle more important bills, among them school vouchers, on his agenda.

Daniels was right, and yet even after Republican leaders said Wednesday that right-to-work would be tabled for this year, that was no longer enough for Democrats — if it ever was.

The absentee Democrats want more. House Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, has a list of 11 other bills which he said Wednesday could keep Democratic representatives in Illinois a while longer. At the top of that list is voucher legislation, which would grant vouchers to parents for their children to attend private schools.

We might suggest that Bauer learned from the right-to-work issue on Wednesday that he could get more from an Illinois motel room than from the Indiana State House, but he already knew that.

Back in 2005, when Republicans held a House majority, Bauer and fellow Democrats stayed away, killing 131 bills. Some of the bills were later inserted into other measures and that will likely happen again this year.

Recall that in 2004, minority House Republicans walked out over a same-sex marriage issue, killing 85 bills. According to an archived Associated Press report, 40 of those failed bills eventually were fitted into other pieces of legislation.

Hoosiers don't like walkouts, and in truth they are childish pranks, but despite all the hand wringing, in Indiana at least, it does seem to be an accepted maneuver by some political insiders.

As for Daniels, who had big plans for this legislative session with a GOP majority in both houses, he has had enough of the nonsense.

Daniels, perhaps the only adult in leadership on either side of the divide this week, let it be known that if Democrats don't take up key measures, he will hold them in special session until the end of the year.

Hoosiers won't like that either, but given that Democrats are denying fair hearings to multiple issues, Daniels may gain support from taxpayers for a summer session.

It is important to note that voters in 2010 gave Republicans a majority in both legislative houses. If Democrats don't like it — and they don't — let them convince voters next year that they should again be the majority party.

Until then, get back to work.

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