House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, strongly objected to Bauer's decision, saying he broke the chamber's rules by not allowing GOP amendments. He accused Bauer of trying to kill the legislation, adding that his interpretation of the rules was "absolutely absurd."
"This is a cheap shot," Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, said of Bauer's decision. "There's times I'm ashamed to be a part of this body, and this is one of them."
Bosma said Republicans walked out so the matter could be delayed until Monday, when he said House rules would allow the GOP to offer amendments.
Bauer, however, placed the House in recess instead of adjourning after the Republicans refused to return to the chamber. Doing so, he said, would not allow Republicans to offer changes Monday.
Bauer accused Republicans of trying to push racist provisions. "We don't need a hate debate on this floor," he said.
Bauer said he acted within the rules of the House and said Republicans weren't trying to improve the immigration proposal, but instead "blow up" the bill.
"We didn't car-bomb anything," Bosma replied, noting that the proposal is still alive.
Republicans also denied their amendments were racist.
Delph said he was disappointed that politics in the House stalled his proposal and urged Republicans in that chamber not to expand the discussion on his bill from punishing employers to withholding benefits from illegal immigrants.
"They were trying to get other issues injected into this debate, and I didn't think that was appropriate," Delph said.
House boycotts are unusual, but not unprecedented. The last happened in 2005, when Democrats killed 130 bills in protest over proposals that required voters to show ID at the polls and created an inspector general for the governor.
Delph was obviously very disappointed at what House Republicans were trying to turn the debate into with their amendments. This is the same tactic the House GOP has employed successfully the last two sessions to kill hate crimes legislation--by offering poison pill amendments to prevent debate on the underlying proposal. As Ruthhart explained their amendments:
Some Republicans said Thursday they wanted to further amend and strengthen the bill by including provisions that would prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving state financial assistance for employment, college tuition and housing.
I think Sen. Delph will have a greater appreciation today of people's skepticism about his legislation. He may have sincere motives, but there are too many other legislators in the General Assembly who clearly want to stoke this issue for immigrant bashing purposes the same way they stoke the marriage amendment issue every year to bash gays.