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Indiana legislator sues over walk-out pay deductions

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An Indianapolis lawmaker is suing the state for deducting some of his pay to cover fines imposed against him because of a legislative walkout earlier this year.

Fort Wayne attorney Mark GiaQuinta filed a suit June 16 in Marion Superior Court on behalf of Rep. William Crawford, D-Indianapolis, who took part in the five-week walkout that shut down the House in February and March because of a right-to-work bill.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, used a House rule to assess fines against the 39 lawmakers who had left the state during the walk-out, deducting the fines from their legislative pay.

In Crawford’s case, the fines total more than $3,000 and also affect his retirement pay. The suit challenges how the fines were imposed but not the fines themselves.

Specifically, the suit says Indiana Code 22-2-8-1 prohibits employers from taking fines out of paychecks and it’s considered a Class C infraction to do so. In addition to that, the suit says it’s official misconduct for an elected office-holder to violate the law and that amounts to a Class D felony.

State Auditor Tim Berry, the State of Indiana, and Bosma are named as defendants in the suit, which is the only legal challenge to the fines to date. Crawford also filed a civil tort claim in the Indiana Attorney General’s Office last week, making similar allegations.

Spokesman Bryan Corbin in the AG’s office declined to comment on the suit or tort claim, but referred to previous statements Attorney General Greg Zoeller had made in April when saying that no formal advisory opinion would be issued on the matter.

“Assessing fines against House members is an issue exclusively for the legislative branch of state government to decide,” he said. “Under the constitutional separation of powers, neither the judicial branch nor the executive branch has the authority to prevent the House from imposing sanctions. Since the Indiana House is on strong legal ground in imposing fines and in doing so through payroll deduction, the Office of the Attorney General as state government's lawyer will defend the authority of the legislative branch to determine its own rules for House members.”
 

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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