BSM C.S.H.B. 3498 77(R)    BILL ANALYSIS

Office of House Bill AnalysisC.S.H.B. 3498
By: Thompson
Judicial Affairs
Committee Report (Amended)


The general perception among many people involved in the criminal justice
system is that very few criminal defendants are financially able to pay
fines and costs. This perception is being altered by innovative and
aggressive collections programs that are proving that a majority of
criminal defendants have greater resources to meet financial
responsibilities than is usually assumed.  Basic private sector collections
techniques and procedures are helping courts and counties statewide
identify and access resources previously thought to be inherently limited
or totally nonexistent. 
In February 1993, a fine collection pilot program was launched in Dallas
County with a two-person staff and a budget of $75,000, serving three
criminal misdemeanor courts. The pilot had 12 months to produce an increase
of $250,000 in fine and costs collections. The pilot is now a fully
self-supporting department operating under the Dallas county clerk's
office, which serves all 12 criminal misdemeanor courts. The program is
credited with increasing fine collections an estimated average $6.45
million per year providing the county with an additional $26.5 million in
revenue from inception through 1999. Dallas County has also recently
implemented a similar program to handle felony cases.  House Bill 3498
requires each county and municipality to biannually file a collection
improvement plan with the Office of Court Administration. 
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. 
House Bill 3498 amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to require the
commissioners court and the governing body of each municipality no later
than January 1 of each even-numbered year to file a collection improvement
plan with the Office of Court Administration of the Texas Judicial System.
The bill provides that the plan must show the methods by which the county
or municipality intends to improve the collection of court costs, fees, and
fines imposed in criminal cases in the courts of the county.    
September 1, 2001.
Committee Amendment No. 1 removes the requirement of the commissioners
court and governing body of each municipality  to file a collection
improvement plan, and authorizes the Office of Court Administration
(office), not later than January 1 of each even numbered year, to award
grants to counties and municipalities to prepare a collection plan.  The
amendment requires the grants to reimburse the county or municipality for
the cost of preparing the plan.  The amendment also authorizes the office
to require that the county or municipality reimburse the state from the
additional collections as a condition of the grant.