Democratic lawmakers who left the Statehouse during this year’s legislative session have finished repaying the fines levied for their absences.
State law allows lawmakers to be fined for unexcused time away from the Statehouse, much like the five weeks Democrats spent in Illinois protesting a Republican agenda which included right-to-work legislation and expanding the state’s school voucher program.
In previous walkouts, fines have been levied but later rescinded when cooler heads prevailed. In this case, House Speaker Brian Bosma stuck to his promise that he would follow state law to the letter, despite protests from some longtime House members, such as Indianapolis Rep. Bill Crawford.
Bloomington State Representative Peggy Welch says she elected to have the fines taken out of the per diem checks she’s been receiving since the session ended.
“It’s my understanding this was the first time the fines have actually been collected,” she says. The 39 members of the 40 that left, we made some big financial sacrifices because we believed in what we were doing. We took a principle stand, and we paid for it.”
Each lawmaker was docked a different amount based on the number of days they were absent. Welch was fined $2,900.