HBA-KDB, EDN C.S.S.B. 1778 77(R)BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisC.S.S.B. 1778 By: Lucio Criminal Jurisprudence 5/4/2001 Committee Report (Substituted) BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Current law authorizes the commissioners court of a county to contract with outside vendors for the collection of fines, fees, restitution, and other costs ordered to be paid by a court serving the county. However, a municipality is not authorized to contract with a vendor to collect money owed to the municipality. In addition, a private attorney is not explicitly authorized to provide collection services. C.S.S.B. 1778 authorizes the commissioners court of a county and the governing body of a municipality to add a 30 percent increase to any fine, fee, restitution, debt, or cost, other than a forfeited bond, that is more than 60 days overdue and collected by a private attorney or a public or private vendor to ensure that municipal and county courts receive all money owed while still allowing the vendor or private attorney to receive fees. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS C.S.S.B. 1778 amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to provide that the commissioners court of a county or the governing body of a municipality that enters into a contract with a private attorney or private vendor for the provision of collection services for debts and accounts receivable, other than forfeited bonds, may authorize the addition of collection fees in the amount of 30 percent on each debt or account receivable that is more than 60 days past due and has been referred to the attorney or vendor for collection. The bill provides that a defendant is not liable for such collection fees if the court of original jurisdiction has determined the defendant is indigent, has insufficient resources or income, or is otherwise unable to pay all or part of the underlying fine or costs. If a private attorney or private vendor collects from a person owing costs ordered paid by the court an amount that is less than the total costs owed by the person, including collection costs permitted under the attorney's or vendor's contract with the commissioners court or governing body, the amount of costs collected otherwise required to be sent to the comptroller of public accounts and the amount permitted to be retained by the county or municipality are reduced by an equal percentage to fully compensate the attorney or vendor, not to exceed the percentage specified as allowable collection costs in the vendor's contract with the county or municipality. The bill repeals provisions relating to a local government expense in collecting fines. EFFECTIVE DATE On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act takes effect September 1, 2001. COMPARISON OF ORIGINAL TO SUBSTITUTE C.S.S.B. 1778 modifies the original bill by providing that the governing body of a municipality, in addition to a commissioners court of a county, that enters into a contract with a private attorney, in addition to a private vendor, for the collection of debts and accounts receivable, other than forfeited bonds, may authorize the addition of certain collection fees. The substitute adds provisions related to compensating a private attorney or private vendor who has been paid less than the total costs owed by a person. The substitute extends the provisions related to collection contracts to include a court serving a municipality. The substitute repeals provisions relating to a local government expense in collecting fines.