A second House committee has removed the proposed Delaware County Sixth Circuit Court from a bill authorizing new courts and magistrates. That’s after Delaware County officials argued opposing views in front of lawmakers. As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, those representatives keep asking why county officials won’t fund a court that county judges and a state study committee say is needed.
Delaware County Judge Kim Dowling says the county went through the official state process to authorize adding a new circuit court in 2019.
“We did everything that the legislature asked us to do. We provided everything we could provide to the Committee on Courts, and it was subsequently approved, and then approved by the legislature and signed by the governor. And it is set, then, to be on the ballot in 2022 to start in 2023. Our weighted caseload absolutely supports this court.”
But she told lawmakers she’s frustrated that the Delaware County Council and commissioners won’t fund the effort.
County Council president Scott Alexander says their opposition is simple – there’s no extra money and likely won’t be for at least four years.
“And there is no support to go back to the taxpayers at this point and ask them to cough up more money to fund more county government when we have to turn around and lay people off. I mean, it just – it doesn’t make sense.”
At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing this week, lawmakers continued to ask how the proposed court got approved with no funding guarantees behind it. Rep.Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) asked that instead of passing an amendment repealing the creation of the court, the committee could amend the start date of the court to beyond 2023, giving Delaware County time to raise the money
“Maybe we give another date in which they add that court versus having them go through that entire [legislative] process again? Because they will have to do that if we remove that sixth court.”
Her suggestion was not considered and an amendment abolishing the Sixth Circuit Court was passed by a voice vote. The bill has not yet been sent to the House floor for consideration.