Court hears dispute over 2011 House walkout

Empty seats were a common sight during the 2011 legislative session after Democrats staged a walkout that lasted over a month.
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Indiana House Democrats who took part in legislative walkouts in 2011 and 2012 are asking the state Supreme Court to decide whether the way the state wants to collect the resulting fines violates state law.

The court will hear arguments Thursday in the lawsuit filed by then-Rep. Bill Crawford of Indianapolis and others.

The lawsuit against Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma and other state officials contends that deducting the fines from legislators' paychecks without their consent violates state wage laws. It doesn't contest the fines themselves.

State attorneys say Indiana's wage laws don't trump legislative discipline and that it's unconstitutional for the court to intervene in the House's internal business.

At the end of the hearing, Chief Justice Brent Dickson said the dispute was political and he urged both sides to reach a compromise.

Lawyers for the Indiana attorney general's office and Democratic legislators who filed the lawsuit say they believe both sides will be willing to talk.

Most House Democrats spent weeks at an Illinois hotel to block action on several 2011 Republican initiatives.

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