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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bail Bond Bill Introduced

A new baill bond bill, HB628, was introduced by Rep. Brian Yates-(R) of Lee’s Summit. The bill seeks to raise the assigned CD for new general agents. Here is a brief summary.

If the bill passes, on August 28, 2009 the following changes would occur:

1. An agent must hold an agent’s license for 4 years, prior to being eligible to become a general agent.
2. If you are a licensed general agent before 8/28/2009, your CD requirement will remain unchanged.
3. All general agents licensed after 8/28/2009 will be required to assign a $50,000 CD to the state.
4. After 8/28/2009, the general agent must execute an additional $5,000 CD for each new agent who licenses under his/her authority.
5. The director may require additional assignments of assets. Department rule will dictate when the circumstances of the business of the general bail bond agent warrants additional funds; except that, such additional funds shall not exceed fifty thousand dollars.
6. Repeals the Lee Clause. (The provision allowing a 15 year look-back on the criminal record of any license holder.)


  1. who wants this is this the bail bond assocation or u, why don't u tell us???????? u have been quick to say the mpbba....... who is behind this bail bond law?????????

  2. This was not initiated by the MPBBA. And as a founding member and a board member of Associated Bail Agents of Missouri, I can say that it is not a piece of legislation that our association is pushing either. This is the brain child of Bart Cooper, who even though he is currently the president of ABAM, is doing this completely on his own and independent of the association membership. There is already language in place in RSMo 374.715 whereby the Department of insurance can raise the General Agents deposit from $10,000 to $35,000 by requiring an additional $25,000 be deposited if the business of the General Agent warrants it. This new bill is purely a new version of the same old rhetoric we have seen in the past designed to eliminate the competition, the little guy, and allow big companies to control the industry.

  3. It is my understanding that Bart Cooper drafted this language and his rep, Brian Yates sponsored it. This bill is brand new. It was just introduced on Thursday. I have not spoken to the bill sponsor and couldn't begin to speculate on who has/will endorse this bill and who will oppose it.

  4. What is Cooper's idea behind this bill. Is it simply to eliminate competition? As I stated earlier, it would ruin me as a bondsman. Yeah, I get it that I would be grandfathered but what would be the appeal for me to recruit new bondsmen. As it it now we have to pay $450.00 to get our license. What am I supposed to say to a person interested in getting their license? "Oh yeah, and by the way you will have to come up with $5,000.00 besides having to pay to get your license." This is just retarded.

    Let me know and I will be on my way to Jeff City. I have the ear of a few Reps and Senators. I would be happy to talk to them with ABAMs permission. BTW not a member yet but I will be soon unless Cooper isn't made to see the errors of his ways by introducing this bill.

  5. You are correct that I am the author of the proposed legislation. With Mrs. Park's permission, I'll soon post a detailed analysis of the proposal. However, I'd like to take a moment to respond to Mr. Thomas' comments.

    First, while this legislation is not currently endorsed by ABAM, I expect that most members (and for that matter, most bail agents) will support the proposal.

    Second, I did not conceptualize this legislation on my own. The proposal arose out of discussions with bail agents, members of ABAM, the DIFP and lawmakers.

    Third, the statute which Mr. Thomas cites as the "fix" to our industry problems is woefully inadequate to fix commercial bail in Missouri. The main problem we all face is too many agents and companies competing for an ever-dwindling number of bonds. 374.715 does nothing to slow entry of new agents and companies into our profession. In fact, I'm aware of only one instance in which 374.715 was used by DIFP to regulate a general agent. Clearly, more must be done.

    Fourth, I'd like Mr. Thomas to explain how this legislation is designed to eliminate the little guy. On the contrary, the five thousand dollar assignment requirement for future agents is designed to help level the playing field between large and small companies.

    Finally, a word about motives. I'm somewhat confused how Mr. Thomas (who currenty employs twenty-eight (that's right, 28) agents can refer to me as a big company. Regardless as how I'm viewed, I remain deeply committed to strengthening our industry. I guess it's understandable that someone who stands to lose a significant amount of money providing the state-mandated education to newly licensed agents would oppose tougher requirements for entry into the profession.

  6. James,

    I appreciate your concern for the industry. Your response left me curious about the market in which you operate.
    1. Does your company feel economic pressure from the seemingly endless supply of new bondsmen and companies?
    2. Are you struggling to sustain profitability?
    3. Has it become necessary for your company to discount bonds, extend credit or relax underwriting requirements to remain competitive?
    If the answer to these questions is yes, then I urge you to reconsider whether new bail agents and companies should be required to demonstrate some additional degree of financial solvency before entering the profession.
    If the answer is no, then please indicate where you operate so that I can add a few agents to your market.
    If the answer to these questions is yes

  7. Would some one (Bart) please explain how having "pled guilty" to a felony vs "convicted" of a felony is good for this business. People that 'pled guilty" to a felony and recieved an S.I.S SHOULD be able to write bail. Just like before the 15 year rule. An S.I.S is NOT A CONVICTION and therefor should not considered when applying for your license. I would like to hear Bart on this one. Thank you in advance.

  8. James,
    One more question...
    What do you tell the agent when he has a judgment of five or ten thousand dollars?

  9. In response to Mr. Coopers post, In his own words
    “The main problem we all face is too many agents and companies competing for an ever-dwindling number of bonds. 374.715 does nothing to slow entry of new agents and companies into our profession”

    Mr. Cooper certainly wants to limit or get rid of the competion and what Bart is proposing would certainly accomplish that. Further, I was present at every meeting but one that ABAM has had and while these topics were brought up by Mr. Cooper the membership as a whole was against it. If fact I cannot think of one single member who voiced approval of the idea. I do remember that the main thrust of the association was to clean up existing legislation so that the language was less confusing and easier for the layman to understand, and NOT to introduce new law to further restrict the business.

    The only things in the language of HB628 that has merit is the repeal of the Lee clause,( a law that went into effect in 2005 allowing convicted felons into the bail bond business) and the paragraph requiring a person have more experience as a bail bond agent before becoming a general bail bond agent. (Currently and since 1983 you have to have 2 years experience, HB628 would change it to 4)

    If a law like Mr. Cooper is proposing were in place fourteen years ago I would not have been able to become a bail bond agent much less a general agent 3 years later. Sure, everyone would like to get rid of competition and be secure in the income they glean, not having to worry about someone a little sharper, a little hungrier, a little more aggressive being there to take the business. The fact is our nation has proven time and again that competition is good and it’s healthy. Anyone getting into this business should be able to strive for more without undue obstacles being placed in their way.

    If we really want to level the playing field as Mr. Cooper said then lets enact legislation that would do the following:

    1. Require that agents charge a minimum of 10% on every bond they write. (this would eliminate discounting bonds to ridiculously low amounts)
    2. Require agents to collect the full fee at the time of the bond and not finance a portion of it. (I know that a lot of bondsmen will say that they have to extend credit because the people they are bonding are poor and would not be able to bond at all if credit were not available, Having been in law enforcement and then in bail bonding most of my adult life, I know from experience that this is not the case. If people can not make bail they have to stay in jail, the more people staying in jail because of inability to bail, the fuller the jail gets until at some point the Judge lowers the bail requirements to alleviate the over crowding in the Jail. Judges are certainly aware of bondsmen discounting and doing credit and in many instances raise the bail to compensate for it. Some bonding companies are bonding clients with no money down and a very poor cosigner. If a Judge wanted a person out on his or her signature that could be accomplished without a bondsman.)

    Those two things would “ Level the Playing Field” as Mr. Cooper puts it. The real problem is irresponsible bond writing. Try as we may we can not legislate intelligence and the fact is that regardless of the rules or laws some bondsmen are still going to make stupid mistakes allowing people out of jail who have no business on the streets. The courts have the final say in approving bonding companies and bondsmen. Courts should take a closer look at large bonds before they are approved. Perhaps requiring these bonds be made in the presence of the court during normal business hours. This doesn’t require new legislation just a little more scrutiny on the part of the courts.

    As a final note to those of you reading this debate, let me say that I have nothing personally against Bart Cooper. He is honest, intelligent, and a good business man employing about 20 agents himself. More over I consider him a friend, but I most definitely disagree with his proposed legislation and will fight it tooth and toe nail.

  10. Mr. Cooper,

    Trying to follow your line of thinking...

    If we were to require a GA to issue a CD of 50 thousand dollars to satisfy unsatisfied forfitures...

    I know that GA's have way more than 50 thousand dollars in liability. Why not require 1 million dollar CD's or better yet require GA's to hold CD's in excess of their liability. OR, limit a GA's liability to what ever their CD is. I assume tht you can see thr futility of this.

    I agree that the business is being innundated with agents. Competition is not a bad thing in business. It requires an agent to be frugal and make concessions due to the available competition. However requiring a GA to hold a CD of 5 thousand dollars puts that squarely on the shoulders of the new agent. I am also a journeyman electrician. If I would have had to pay for my apprentaceship I would still be working as a security officer at an apartment complex. The contractors were required to pay for the school. If the student didn't perform properly they were either fired or laid off. If a GA properly monitors their agent and not allows an agent to perform poorly by writing discount bonds or credit bonds the industry would level itself.

    I believe that Mr Cooper has good intentions with this bill, I see a better way than eliminating a persons ability to enter teh bail bond industry.

    Mr. Thomas's idea of eliminating credit bonds and eliminating discount bonds is a better place to start. And I agree that legislation should be in place to enforce that. However the only thing that Mr. Cooper's proposal will accomplish will be to eliminate the "little guy" from the opprotunity to work in the bail bonds industry.

  11. A system that fixes the prices a company can charge and requires a company to collect a set amount of money prior to peforming a service IS a system that restricts competition. Price controls are certainly not a concept upon which our economic system was founded. Nor are they workable and enforceable in an industry like ours which see thousands of transactions throughout the state on a daily basis.

  12. To Raise or Not to Raise.

    While reading my favorite (and only) statewide industry blog, I had the sudden sense of “Groundhog Day”. Another bill that’s supposed to save us from ourselves. Once again I see that since there is no recognized industry representation (don’t worry I won’t use the A word), the brain child of one person can actually become law.

    Don’t blame Bart, blame yourselves (myself included). Despite the fact that I disagree with virtually the entire bill, you must blame yourselves for not organizing. Blame yourselves for not seeing the disorganization (neither industry representation organization has a platform, you know a couple basic things you promise the mine workers).

    In my opinion, this bill like the last five bills before this one does nothing to facilitate the day to day operations or long term aspirations of a bonding company.

    The quality or solvency of a bail bond company does not increase because a general agent was licensed before August 28th 2009.

    If the industry feels that $10,000 is not enough equity to file with the state for a general bail license, that’s fine.

    Let’s raise the CD $50,000.

    What will never pass in Jefferson City is a bill complete with “Grandfather Clauses” that by the letter of the law retards the growth of employment in Missouri and limits entry of young professionals into our industry.

    At least without a few politicians being unseated during the next election and unneeded statewide media scrutiny.

    On behalf of my company, I have submitted my concerns to the appropriate State legislators and have made the following recommendations:

    A. Increase general agent’s CD requirement to $25,000.

    Regardless to how well you write a bail bond or conduct fugitive recovery, if you can’t cover the amount of two modest felony bonds, you should not be a general agent. Especially if you are employing bail agents.

    B. Require bail agent to post a CD in the amount of $2,500 within the first calendar year of receiving bail agent license.

    CD will attach to bail agent’s license and will transfer with bail agent. The one year time frame will give new agents approved for hire by general agent a opportunity to be financially responsible for state CD assignment and elevates the issues that will arise from current bill in regards to bail agents transferring companies. $2500 averages out to a $200 a month commitment from the new agent.

    C. Repeal Lee Clause

    No explanation necessary. This has to happen to garner the respect and trust we need from the courts, correctional facilities and law enforcement.

    D. Require $50,000 CD assignment for all General Agents during first two years as a general agent.

    This will ensure that new bail bond companies have the assets necessary to perform as a General Agent in this state.

    E. Require all court clerks of this State to request on the behalf of bail agents a letter of incarceration from any jurisdiction in which a fugitive is believe to be incarcerated.

    Some out of state jurisdictions will not release a letter of incarceration to bail bondsmen. This will ensure that no bail agent pays for a bond forfeiture on a defendant that is incarcerated.

    F. Upon presentation of certified copy of bail bond, Missouri Probation and Parole will provide to all licensed General or Bail Agent any information available that will assist in fugitive’s recovery.

    Currently Missouri Probation and Parole officers are prohibited by law from releasing any information including new home address, employer, family profile information, active violations of supervised release or scheduled appointment time. If there is information available to assist in fugitive recovery, why do we not have access to it? Because of the current regulations, criminal wins and everybody loses.

    G. Require bail agent to approve either by notarized declaration at any circuit court in the state or verbal declaration to appropriate judge in person all requests to reinstate defendant’s bail bond when a defendant has failed appear.

    Too often attorneys walk into court and reinstate fugitive’s bail bonds without our knowledge. This can create a nightmare situation if the court’s procedures do not allow a bail agent to request release from a surrendered fugitive expediently. When a bail agent surrenders a defendant, technically the bail agent should be “off the bond”. If any agent has had success with challenging a Judge’s authority to reinstate a bond, please let me know.

    H. General or Bail Agent may charge no more than one half the original contracted premium to reinstate bond for defendant arrested or surrendered on FTA.

    As a general practice, I do not rebond defendant’s that have missed court.
    Although we have all faced situations where extenuating circumstances warrants a defendant’s bond being reinstated. On a average, charging a additional 5 percent reinstating a defendant’s bond will cover the additional liability that is associated with a defendant who has missed court.

    Long term, I would like to see the standard premium on rebonding a defendant in Missouri increase to fifteen percent. This will create a incentive for FTA defendants who like to “jump bondsmen” to pay off current bondsmen.

    To Bart, Mike, MPBBA, ABAM and the rest of the General and Bail Agents in Missouri:

    If you feel like you have the vision necessary to propose legislation that regulates the 800 plus agents of this State, then it is your American right to do so. Take the leadership role with what’s best for our industry at the forefront, not your personal agendas. Not that I personally challenge anyone’s motives.

    I’m just not confident that the animosity amongst General and Bail agents within the State will allow the creation of legislation that actually matters.

    My fellow bondsmen, the passing of some bill will do nothing to alleviate your concerns about the future of professional bail bondsmen in this state.

    It will not take the crooks out the business.

    It will not bring back the honor of public service through private practice.

    Passing a bill will not organize our ranks for the benefit of all that write bail in this State.

    Let’s all take a second to remember why most of us are bail agents in the first place.

    A. To put good shoes on our infant’s feet.
    B. To push our children to a higher level of education than we received ourselves.
    C. To help secure our son’s and daughter’s future through our investment into their homes and careers.
    D. To start all over again with our grandkids.

    While there are many persons in this industry that I wouldn’t tinkle on if they were on fire, it does not mean that their business concerns are not the same as my own.

    What we all need, including myself, is a dose of maturity and forgiveness. If you lose a bond to another company, you lost the bond. The agent that rushes and underbids you wouldn’t stay solvent very long.

    In regards to competition for bail agents, I will share with you what a General Agent I have great respect for once told me. “If you want to leave, not only do I want you to leave, I’m going to help you leave”. Save the stealing agent stories for when it is actually true.

    As an industry when general agents try to equate dishonest agents with personal issues and competition for business, you create a “boy cries wolf” persona for all bail agents with the Department of Insurance, circuit courts and other General Agents.

    Instead of focusing on the other company’s problems, as an industry let’s each look into our own shortcomings and raise the standard of all companies. That way problem general agents will stand out……… alone.

    I respect Angela Parks for keeping the issues of our industry at the forefront and while I don’t agree with most of what I have read about the current bill, I have respect for the personal position of all agents involved with this blog discussion. I hope that more general and bail agents will post their concerns.

  13. Mr. Cooper and Mr. Thomas...
    I have been in this business going on 16 years and I believe that both of you have valid points all the way around.

    I do not think that Mr. Coopers proposal is mainly to eliminate competition and I will agree that competition is a healthy thing in business.

    Back when I started, bondsman were allies to the courts and Judges. We were looked at as if we were part of the judicial system in a good way. Today, depending on who's asking, I am almost ashamed to say what I do for a living.

    I firmly believe that due to allot of past legislation that has done us more harm than good, I am a big advocate on the bail bond industry staying out of Jefferson City and quit pushing our weight around. With that said, unfortunatly, our industry has gotten to the point that something does in fact need to be done.

    When a Bill is first introduced, there is allot of room for amendmants, re-writes and discussion. I think that the Generals who believe that something has to be done, Mr. Cooper does in fact have a starting point for all to work with.

    Mr. Thomas' comments on financing bonds is an issue that has made big news nationwide from California, Louisiana, Florida and the midwest. If a Judge wants a criminal out of Jail for a fraction of the cost, he/she would have set the bond as such. The issue is a criminal can get out and back on the street for little or no money. This has attracted allot of attention in the last few months and is only growing.

    Not only are we all facing so called trash bondsman, we are also facing Judicial systems and Judges who have thier own problems to deal with. It is all to common to have a defendant fail to appear 5 or 6 times, brought in, only to be R.O.R.'d by the Court the following day.

    Most Counties have cut thier extradition limits by 2/3 and will only extradite neighboring counties only. The failure to appear rates in most of the state has doubled if not trippled making just about every bond you now write a high risk bond.

    What I see that bothers me the most are unqualified bail bond agents popping up everywhere. Yes they took the class, but depending on which provider they went to, did they really learn anything? Anybody can take the class and get a license, but they still have to have a General hire them to actually write bonds.

    Most Generals already know what thier risks are and if they are above board in thier business, they already conduct themselves accordingly. The problems, are the Generals who focus on volume and fees, ignoring the principal of the bond in the first place. If the General allows thier agents to finance bond fees, mail out rebate offers and perform any other un-ethical practices. That respnsibility should totally fall on the General who allows it.

    We all know that times are tough and many agents are struggling to make ends meet, but I will say this, when agents discount, take payments and write bonds for little or no money down, the only person who makes out is the defendant. I promise you, if no one would do this, the defendants do come up with the money. I have never financed a bond and never will and yet my clients always seem to come up with the money.

    Everyone here whether a General Agent or Agent is in business. What I have to do as a businesman is consider what is best for me. Are we looking for a quick fix, only to maybe create a bigger problem down the road? Or, are we looking for a long term fix that will insure our livelyhood for years to come?

    Personally, what ever we do, I would have to vote for the best possible solution that would insure the stability of our industry and its future as I am to darn old to learn how to do something new.

  14. To the Anonymous poster who submitted "To Raise or Not to Raise", you have some great ideas. Please contact me regarding how to handle reinstatement of bonds (your point G above).

  15. I'm concerned about the proposed legislation mainly because of the wording of the additional $5000 requiment for licensed agents (#2). The wording states "the general bail bond agent shall execute an assignment to the state of Missouri in the amount of five thousand dollars for each bail bond agent licensed under the authority of the general bail bond agent on or after August 28, 2009". It doesnt say added or clearly say any agents you currently have will be grandfathered in or when they renew their license with the general they are included. As I read the statute in general it gives the August 28, 2009 deadline that any agents I have on or after that date licensed under my company, whether or not I already had them I have to have the $5000 assignment.


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.