Serving Missouri with timely information about issues of the bail bond industry.

Although Missouri Bondsman encourages debate on topics of interest to the bail industry, please be aware that comments are moderated. Please observe the posting rules. No comments will be printed that contain spam, profanity, or libelous comments. Please post comments in a civil, professional manner.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

End of Session Report

The 2007 Missouri General Assembly adjourned last Friday. The final report of bills with bail bond language follows:
SB153-Senate informal calendar, didn’t receive a vote of full Senate
SB459-Never received a hearing
HB586-Never received a hearing
HB1165-Never received a hearing
SB325-Didn’t receive a vote of the full House

Late in the session, the MPBBA voted to withdraw its support of the language in these bills.
Another bill, SB66, passed and contains some bail bond regulation language. I'll discuss this bill in upcoming posts.

Services Announced for Tommy Bays

General bail bond agent Tommy Lee Bays, 61, of Camdenton, Mo., passed away Monday morning, May 21, 2007, at his home. Tommy was the general agent for Tommy Bays Bail Bonding, formerly known as Missouri Bail Bonding. Tommy contracted with 39 agents throughout Missouri.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, May 24, at the Camdenton United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m., Wednesday evening, at the Hedges Funeral Home in Camdenton.

Tommy’s wife and two daughters survive him. Memorials may be given to the Tommy Bays Education Fund for his children, Rachel and Becca.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Bail Bond Language in Another Bill

SB325 was reported out of committee a few weeks ago. The following bail language was added to the bill in committee. This makes the fifth time this language was introduced or substituted this year.

● Bill Section 374.707 The DIFP must notify the general agent of a notice of forfeiture within 48 hours of receiving notice from the courts. The language is ambiguous and does not specify if this notice is a bond forfeiture hearing or a court ordered unsatisfied judgment. There are many bond forfeitures hearings, most are set aside and do not result in judgment. This would be an onerous task for local courts if this language were interpreted to include every ‘notice of forfeiture.’ The courts already report unsatisfied judgments to the Office of State Courts Administrator.
● Bill Section 374.710.1 The Department shall include a photograph on the bail bond license. The bill does not say how this picture will be obtained or what the additional licensing cost might be. The DIFP testified last year that it issues no other licenses which included a photograph and this would be new technology for the Department.
● Bill section 374.710.5 An agent cannot write bonds without noticing the department of the name, address and telephone number for each employer he/she works or operates as an independent contractor. This is more ambiguous language which does not distinguish between all employers or bail bond related employment. The law already requires a signed affidavit stating the agent does not work for a political subdivision of the State of Missouri and the signature of an agent’s general agent.
● Bill Section 374.710.6 This section has inconsistencies with the use of ‘shall’ and ‘may’ causing contradictions and confusion. If a bail bond agent goes to work for a new company he/she SHALL file an affidavit with the DIFP and the new general agent, swearing “that to the best of their knowledge, there are no outstanding premiums owed at the time of the appointment.” I think there is very little possibility an agent could swear under oath that no one owes money to the agent and/or the company. Secondly, the section does not tell to whom the money might be owed. Premium owed the agent? The former company? The new company? All of the above? Additionally, the section does not differentiate between uncollected or uncollectible premium in the form of credit extended to clients and collected premium not turned into the company. The next sentence of this section states that IF premiums are owed (this should never happen because the previous part of this section states that you shall file an affidavit saying no one owes money) and the agent does not satisfy this obligation, the former general agent MAY file notice, under oath, with supporting documentation, stating that the bail bond agent has failed to satisfy his/her obligation. Then upon receipt of this notification, the new general agent MAY cancel the authority of his/her new agent. IF the new general agent cancels the authority of the new agent, the cancellation SHALL remain in effect until all of the alleged premiums due the former general agent are paid in full. That is a lot of confusing language. Misappropriation of premium is already against the law. There are already remedies for a company who alleges an agent misappropriated funds. A company can file a complaint with the DIFP, file a complaint with the local prosecutor, or sue the agent for the amount due.
● Section 374.715.1 Requires fingerprinting and background screening. This is redundant language since fingerprinting and background investigation is already being required by the DIFP through regulation.
● Bill Section 374.755.1(2-3) Bill continues to license felons in the bail business. This has been an ongoing problem with felons in the bail bond business being profiled in the Columbia Missourian, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Joplin Globe, and the Columbia Tribune. Keeps the controversial 15-year felony clause passed in 2004, but adds that a license MAY be refused, revoked, etc. if an applicant has been convicted of: any dangerous felony defined by section 556.061, RSMo, any felony crime of assault, any felony crime that results in the serious physical injury or death of another person, any felony crime against the administration of justice, or any felony of which deceit or fraud is an element of the offense. Examples of felonies not included in this language would be manufacturing of meth, child pornography, drug sales, felons with firearms, and statutory sodomy of a 13 year-old.
● Bill section 374.715.2 This bill is unfair to small, family-owned companies who will be required to make the same cash deposit as a corporation employing 50 agents. The bill doubles the required certificate of deposit to become a general agent from $10,000 to $20,000 and then the DIFP can require the CD be increased to $40,000 based upon regulation. Small, family companies have fewer bonds and less risk, why should they be required to post the same CD as large, corporate companies who have many, many more bonds in force with the courts?
●Section 374.773 Any licensed general bail bond agent or bail bond agent who is arrested for a felony shall notify the director within ten days of his or her arrest. This is empty language that does not instruct the DIFP on what to do with this information. It makes people feel good but does nothing to address the problem with felons in the bail bond business.
● Bill section 374.780.1 There is a housekeeping issue with this section. The bill codifies violations by levels and refers to a level two violation for violating section 374.761(b). The problem is there is no section 374.761b in the bill or currently in statute.
●374.787.1(2) This section says that no bounty hunter can be a felon. A representative from the Missouri Supreme Court pointed out (in committee hearing on SB153) that this language was inconsistent with the bail bond agent requirements in 374.755.1(2-3) and said the felon requirement should be consistent in both sections. I agree.

Status of other bail bond bills:
SB153 on Senate Calendar for perfection
SB459-No hearing scheduled
HB586-No hearing scheduled
HB1165-Not assigned to committee

Thankfully, the legislative session will be over on May 18th.