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Indiana Supreme Court Steps Into Legislative Dispute Over Fines

Last updated on Monday, January 30, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS) - The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to step into a legislative dispute over the collection of $1,000- a-day fines imposed on Democrats who boycotted the House to protest a right-to-work bill.

The court voted 4-1 Friday to accept jurisdiction over the state's appeal.

The attorney general's office asked the high court to intervene after a Marion County judge blocked the House from collecting fines through payroll deduction. In a related development Friday, the judge extended his order blocking the fines for another ten days.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller says the dispute properly belongs in the Legislature, not in the courts. He says that under constitutional separation of posers, a court cannot interfere in the workings of the legislative branch.

Government officials who blatantly violate the state's open meetings or open record laws could face fines under a bill approved by the Indiana House.

The House voted 90-4 Friday in favor of the bill. That bill and a similar Senate proposal would allow a judge to impose civil fines up to $100 for a first offense and up to $500 for additional violations.

The bill would also allow residents to email requests for public meeting notices and allow government agencies to post those notices on their websites.

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