Special Edition: Indiana fee/fine/cost legislation in the 2017 session

HB 1268 Urges the legislative council to assign to the appropriate study committee the topic of studying a traffic amnesty program to permit certain persons owing unpaid traffic fines, or who may be required to pay a fee for driver’s license reinstatement, to obtain a reduction in the amount owed or amount payable. Approved by full House 2/23/17. Approved by full Senate 3/20/17. Returned to House for transmission to Governor.

Plans to link executive/legislative salaries to judges rejected in Indiana & Wyoming

Plans to tie the salaries of legislative and executive branch officials to judges have been rejected in both Indiana and Wyoming.

The Indiana plan, discussed here, builds on an existing plan that links the salaries of state legislators to judges. Under SB 60 as introduced, that link would have been extended to include top executive branch officials. The version that came out of committee and was approved by the Senate asks for a study committee to be formed to look at these salaries instead.

The Wyoming plan, HB 175 as discussed here, made linkages between top executive branch officials and judicial salaries. The amended version removed any reference to links and instead put in exact amounts (i.e. Governor = $113,000). Even with the amendment, the plan died in the House Committee of the Whole.

Bans on court use of sharia/international law: 16 bills in 12 states to start 2017; Arkansas House and Montana Senate versions differ on constitutionality of same sex marriage.

The 2017 legislative session appears poised to pick up where the 2015/2016 sessions left off with respects to attempts to ban state courts from using or making reference to foreign/international law in general and sharia law in particular. Among the legislation:

Oregon SB 479 specifically targets sharia by name. As I mentioned when this came up in 2015, the Oregon bill’s specific naming and targeting sharia is similar to an Oklahoma effort that was struck down by federal courts as a violation of the First Amendment.

Arkansas HB 1041 approved by the House last week 63-24 provides

A court ruling or decision violates the public policy of this state and is void and unenforceable if the court bases its ruling or decision in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any foreign law, legal code, or system that does not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision one (1) or more of the following fundamental rights, liberties, and privileges granted under the Arkansas Constitution or the United States Constitution

Among those rights listed is the “right to marry, as “marriage” is defined by Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 83.” Amendment 83 provides “Marriage consists only of the union of one man and one woman.” The lead sponsor of the bill indicated he believed “that marriage is between a man and a woman, not between the same sexes.

The other bill to advance so far was Montana’s SB 97 which cleared the Senate 27-21 on February 3. It too mentions marriage, but does not explicitly limit it to one man and one woman.

A court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision violates the public policy of Montana and is void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its ruling or decision on a law, legal code, or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the Montana constitution or the United States constitution, including but not limited to due process, equal protection, freedom of religion, speech, or press, the right to keep and bear arms, and any right of privacy or marriage.

Full list of bills below the fold.

  1. Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law: 16 bills in 12 states to start 2017; Arkansas House and Montana Senate versions differ on constitutionality of same sex marriage.

In 2015 Indiana required all Town/City judges be attorneys, now some in the legislature want to go back to lay judges

In 2015 Indiana moved to the end practice of allowing non-attorney judges in the state’s lowest tier of trial courts: Town and City (discussed here). Now members of both the House and Senate want to go back to lay judges.

SB 238 would generally remove the attorney-judge requirement except for 9 specifically name courts and any court located in Lake County.

HB 1564 takes a slightly different approach and is more population based.

  1. Attorney-judges would be required in the 9 courts + any in Lake County (as in SB 238).
  2. Attorney-judges would not be required in a Town/City Court with a population under 10,000.
  3. Attorney-judges would (apparently) be required in a Town/City Court with a population over 10,000.

HB 1564 is in the House Courts and Criminal Code while SB 238 is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Indiana: bill would curtail state supreme court’s power to adopt rules; require court submit proposed rules for legislative review and approval

A bill recently introduced into the Indiana Senate would require rules adopted by the Indiana Supreme Court be stayed until it reviews and possibly subject to approval by the legislature.

SB 406 of 2017 requires the supreme court submit a nonemergency rule and any economic impact statement to the Office of Fiscal Management and Analysis of the Legislative Services Agency to estimate the fiscal impact on state and local government.

If the fiscal impact of the rule is greater than $300,000 the rule would be further subject to a newly created Administrative Rules Review Committee made up of 12 members of the legislature.

Finally, if the impact was greater than $300,000, the Supreme Court’s rule would not take effect unless authorized by a bill enacted by the general assembly.

SB 406 has been sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Indiana: Plan calls for linking executive branch salaries to judicial salaries; legislative salaries already linked

The practice of linking the salaries of other officials to that of judges has been debated throughout the country. In 2015, it was abandoned in Oklahoma and adopted in Colorado. Indiana may be extending its existing linkage between judicial-and-state-legislative salaries to include executive branch officials as well.

Under SB 60 of 2017 as introduced the link would start in 2021:

  • Governor of Indiana’s salary = 100% of salary paid by the state under IC 33-38-5-6 to a Circuit Court Judge of Marion County.
  • Lt. Gov., Secretary of State, Auditor of State, Treasurer of State, Attorney General, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction = 85% of salary paid by the state to a Circuit Court Judge of Marion County.

The plan is similar to the system in place for state legislators.  A law passed in 2007 (SB 401) makes legislative salaries equal to 18% of a trial judge’s salary under IC 33-38-5-6, as adjusted under IC 33-38-5-8.1.

SB 60 has been filed in the Senate Civil Law Committee.

Bans on court use of sharia/international law: GA House approves modified bill; Mississippi bill to ban sharia in divorce cases dies

The latest iterations of efforts to ban state courts from using foreign or international law in general, and sharia law in particular, appear to be stalling in most states. Since last month’s update there have been three pieces of activity, within only 1 bill moving.

Georgia: The House yesterday passed a heavily amended version of HB 171. As introduced, the bill provided

Any tribunal ruling shall be void and unenforceable if the tribunal bases its ruling in whole or in part on any foreign law that would deny the parties the rights and privileges granted under the United States Constitution or the Georgia Constitution.

As amended the bill adds to an existing list of items (O.C.G.A. 9-10-31.1) to be considered by a court when considering the issue of venue and the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

In determining whether to grant a motion to dismiss an action or to transfer venue under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, the court shall give consideration to the following factors

whether the forum outside of this state provides for impartial tribunals and procedures that are consonant to the requirements of due process of law as required by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Georgia.

The bill was approved 165-0.

In Mississippi, which already enacted a foreign law ban in 2015, legislators attempted to enhance the existing law. SB 2400 would have allowed courts to award attorney’s fees to any party opposing recognition or enforcement of foreign law. SB 2595 specifically targeted the use of sharia law in divorce and child custody cases. Both bills died in committee.

Finally, a bill was introduced in Missouri (HB 2507) that dealt with the subject as well.

Full list of bills below the fold.

Continue reading Bans on court use of sharia/international law: GA House approves modified bill; Mississippi bill to ban sharia in divorce cases dies