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HB 1228: Legislature Hesitant to Collect Debts to State

Today is the last day for committees to deliver bills to the House and Senate in Pierre. Among the bills that must do or die today is House Bill 1228, the second incarnation of the state’s effort to create a debt collection agency. The Department of Revenue had brought a much tougher, more comprehensive bill, Senate Bill 59, that basically would have quit piddling around and grabbed deadbeats by their paychecks and bank accounts. Private debt collectors said Hey! Shakedowns are our job! and the Legislature backed off their turf, settling instead for the less toothy HB 1228’s threat to take away debtors’ driving, hunting, and fishing licenses.

Even that remaining tooth isn’t very sharp compared to the original plan. SB 59 would have blocked debtors from obtaining any state license, including teaching certificates and licenses to practice law.

The state’s hesitance to follow through on debt collection puzzles me. They can’t even call it “debt collection”; House Appropriations euphemized the purpose of HB 1228 to “obligation recovery.” We’re not talking about imposing a new tax or fee; we’re talking about money people already owe, money that should be in our hands to fund our schools and roads. If a student violates the conditions of her Critical Teaching Needs scholarship or Build South Dakota scholarship and tries to skip out on paying us back, we’re entitled to get that money. Why wait around… and why fritter away some of that debt in hiring a private collection agency? Go get what’s ours and be done!

Senate Appropriations takes up the debt collection—excuse me, obligation recovery center bill this morning at 10 a.m.


  1. mike from iowa 2015-03-09 08:22

    This could get rilly interesting when the koch bros and their ilk have trillions in tax receipts sitting offshore waiting for git tuff wingnuts to give Uncle Sam’s tax revenues a free pass back into ‘murrica. The poor are easy to grind under the heels of oppression. The koch bros have more lawyers than the rest of the world combined.

  2. Roger Cornelius 2015-03-09 15:56

    The obvious question is who in the state legislature and Pierre power brokers owe money to the state?

    Given that the state GOP continually acts selfishly, I suspect that they are once again protecting themselves against their “obligation recovery”.

    The next question would be, how much do those private collection agencies contribute to the SDGOP?

  3. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-03-09 21:59

    Which is cheaper? Hiring a private collection agency or creating a state agency to do the same?

    Also, what laws does SD have in place to regulate collection agencies? Are those laws enough and are they decently enforced? Or does SD need a consumer protection agency like the new one in DC?

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