Pushback on Bill To Crack Down on Delinquent Court Fines

Jul 1, 2015

Governor Branstad is hearing from county attorneys around the state, as he debates whether to sign a last-minute item in a catch-all spending bill.  

The provision would privatize the collection of court fines and fees to bring in an estimated $12 million more next year.    

The Judicial Branch has pushed to improve the collection of delinquent fines.  The bill would bypass the state’s Central Collection Unit and assign the work to a private debt collector.   

The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency says  a debt collection company would use more aggressive methods and have longer access to the newest debt which is easier to collect.  

County officials fear their participation would diminish, with a loss of funds to the counties.  They also say they didn’t have a chance to present their side before the provision was included in the so-called standings bill in the waning days of the session.

A spokesman for Senate Democrats says the measure was supported by both parties.  

 Judicial Branch spokesman Steve Davis says the change will streamline collection of delinquent debt.   

Under the bill, $2 million of collected debt will go into a special fund to boost salaries for judges.