BSM C.S.H.B. 3498 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisC.S.H.B. 3498 By: Thompson Judicial Affairs 4/6/2001 Committee Report (Amended) BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE 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. 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 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. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001. EXPLANATION OF AMENDMENTS 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.