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Lawmakers move court-funding bills

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In the last days of the legislative session, lawmakers addressed funding proposals in HB 1154 on converting Marion County commissioners into magistrates and using a $35 fee on traffic infractions to pay for this; SB 307 that would allow a $50 fee on Bartholomew County traffic infractions to pay for a new Superior Court there; and SB 399 on capping traffic violation fines statewide.

The House passed an amended version of SB 307 Feb. 22, but the Senate objected to amendments and sent it to conference committee for final review. The House passed SB 399 unanimously and sent it to the Senate with amendments, while HB 1154 was passed unanimously by senators and returned to the House for review.

This legislation deals with different issues but centers on how Indiana courts are funded, and highlights the topic of whether profit-driven courts should be allowed. During the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee meeting in mid-February, lawmakers voiced their concern about the Marion County practice of imposing additional fines on traffic violations, which has sparked a lawsuit that's pending in federal court. Committee chair Matt Pierce, D-Indianapolis, said he would write a letter to Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard asking for an investigation.
 

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