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SB 413 is a local bill bracketed only for a county with a population of more than 780,000 but less than 790,000. This bill would allow any officer authorized to collect a fee to request the trial court in which a criminal action or proceeding was held to make a finding that a fee is uncollectible if the officer believes the defendant is deceased, the defendant is serving a sentence for life, or the fee has been unpaid for at least 15 years.
If the court finds the fee to be uncollectible based on any one of the three conditions above, the court may order the officer to designate the fee as uncollectible and attach the order to the fee record.
The first two conditions under which this bill would allow a fee to be determined uncollectible, the debtor is deceased or imprisoned for life with no means to make payment, would be beneficial to limited government by allowing officers to not waste time attempting to collect debts which either cannot be collected or for which the cost to collect would be more than the amount of debt to be collected.
However, the third provision diminishes our personal responsibility principle by designating a fee uncollectible if it has not been paid in 15 years. This could allow an individual who owes a debt and has the means to pay to avoid making payment based merely on the fact of having avoided doing so for 15 years.
Due to the conflict between two of our principles, we remain neutral. We would support the bill if amended to remove the 15 year provision. Another amendment worth considering would be to remove the bracket and make the bill applicable statewide.