By Michael J. Whitlock
The Damon Allen Act, after failing to pass in 2019, was easily passed out of both chambers of the Texas State Legislature and is now awaiting Governor Greg Abbot’s signature.
There were a lot of people and organizations involved in the passing of The Damon Allen Act, appropriately named after a Texas Highway Patrol Officer who lost his life in the line of duty. Both the American Bail Coalition and the Professional Bondsmen of Texas played pivotal roles in educating legislators on the efficacy of secured bail and bail bonds in particularly.
One must read the 40 page Act in order to fully digest its contents. The measure addresses everything from due process to prohibiting PR bonds for those charged with violent offenses to required reporting of statistical data to regulating charitable bail funds. Simply put, it’s one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation seen in the way of bail reform since anyone can remember. It only needs the signature of the Governor to become law.
The last day of the 2021 session for any bill to pass the California legislature is Friday, September 10, four days from now. Of particular interest to anyone wanting to continue to operate a bail bond company in California is Senate Bill 262.
SB 262 is an unabashed assault on an entire industry. The bill says, if a defendant’s case is dismissed or the prosecutor fails to file charges, 95% of the bail premium must be refunded. The same holds true if the defendant makes all their court appearances. So, if a bail agent does his/her job they have to return the lions share of the premium. This is clearly an industry killing bill and it must not pass.
Sadly, defending a surety’s right to retain the premium earned is being fought almost exclusively by the bail industry while the majority of the insurance industry act as bystanders. Fortunately, bail agents are never afraid to get our hands dirty. If it’s a fight you want, it’s a fight you will get.