Bills would make changes to pro bono funding, court costs, early voting

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Indiana’s 2012 legislative session promises to be a busy one, with hundreds of bills already filed and a short session deadline of March 14. Following are some of the bills Indiana Lawyer is watching:

The Senate Committee on Judiciary is expected to hear a bill that would create additional funding for pro bono districts. Senate Bill 235, introduced by Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville, would distribute $1 from certain small claims and civil court filing fees to the Indiana Bar Foundation for the purpose of supplementing funding to Indiana’s pro bono districts. Charles Dunlap, executive director of the bar foundation, said the bill could result in about $500,000 in annual funding for the pro bono districts, which have struggled with budget shortfalls resulting from a decrease in interest on lawyer trust accounts.

House Bill 1049, authored by Rep. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, would remove a $400 cap on fees for participation in problem-solving courts. Under the revisions made by the bill, reasonable fees for education or treatment and rehabilitative services would not be included in the participation fee. The bill is slated to be heard by the House Committee on Judiciary.

Democratic Sens. Jean Breaux of Indianapolis, Jim Arnold of LaPorte, and John Broden of South Bend have introduced a bill that would allow county election boards to establish early satellite voting centers with only a majority vote. Currently, a unanimous vote is required to establish early satellite voting centers. The legislation – Senate Bill 6 – has been referred to the Senate Committee on Elections. If passed, the law would be effective before November’s presidential election.



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