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State To Begin Docking Democrat's Expense Checks

Last updated on Friday, April 8, 2011

(STATEHOUSE) - The state has begun docking the expense checks of 38 house Democrats to cover the fines assessed over their five-week strike.

But one of those legislators may go to court.

Fort Wayne Representative Phil Giaquinta argues state law expressly forbids employers to deduct fines from workers' paychecks without a court order.

And he questions whether the fines are legal in the first place.

He says Democrats were exercising both their free speech rights and their rights as legislators when they fled to Urbana, Illinois, to prevent a quorum to consider a handful of labor and education bills.

Attorney Mark Giaquinta, Phil Giaquinta's brother, has sent letters to House Speaker Brian Bosma and State Auditor Tim Berry, laying out the legal case against the fines and hinting at a lawsuit if the deductions go forward.

He says Wednesday's first deduction should be restored.

Bosma says the fines are authorized under the rules of the house, but he's asked Attorney General Greg Zoeller and an outside lawyer to review the claim.

Bosma says the deductions will pay off the $3,150 in fines by year's end.

The total is slightly less for some democrats who were in the house for a day or two for procedural reasons during the walkout.

Two Democrats owe no fines.

Jeffersonville's Steven Stemler defied the boycott and attended each session during the standoff.

And Milton Representative Phil Pflum returned to the house on Monday after missing most of the session, including the entire walkout, while recuperating from gallbladder surgery.

His absences were excused.

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