Recently the Iowa Legislature gave the governor the ability to transfer money and pay more than $6 million in unpaid bills  that would cover state costs owed to public defenders and private attorneys under contract to provide legal services for indigent defendants. Indigent defendants are employed by the government to represent those who are charged with a crime and cannot afford an attorney.

Senate File 512 was sent to Governor Branstad on April 5, 2011 and was vetoed this morning, April 12th.

Yesterday on the floor of the Iowa House, Representative Kurt Swaim protested the lack of payment to state defenders by ripping up his pay check until action is taken. Read the full Radio Iowa article below.

Legislator rips up paycheck in protest

by O. Kay Henderson on April 11, 2011

in Crime & Courts,Legislature,Politics & Government

The state program that provides legal defense to Iowans who’re accused of a crime but can’t afford an attorney ran out of money weeks ago. A proposal to pay the state’s overdue bills to attorneys, court reporters and others who work on cases for indigent clients is linked with another controversial proposal that deals with tax cuts, dooming the entire package. House Republicans proposed giving the governor authority to shift money around the state budget to cover the overdue legal bills, but Governor Branstad has called that bad budgeting.

“I’m not going to cash my check as long as we’re not paying our bills,” Swaim said.

A state lawmaker tore up his paycheck in protest Monday, inviting others to do the same. Representative Kurt Swaim, a Democrat from Bloomfield, stood on the House floor and ripped his paycheck into pieces to call attention to the legislature’s failure to come up with a plan for paying the state’s overdue legal bills.