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Editorial: Deadbeat bill a good idea

Editorial Indiana Lawyer
February 17, 2010
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Indiana Lawyer Editorial


At first glance, the legislation seems like the sort that no one could possibly have an objection to.

The problem is huge. Only 58 percent of child support payments are collected in Indiana. The unpaid child support bill is upwards of $2 billion, which includes 165,000 non-custodial parents who owe $2,000 or more.

That's pathetic.

Senate Bill 163 could help make a dent in that deficit by snagging the gaming winnings of deadbeat parents in Indiana's casinos. Indiana Lawyer wrote a story on this topic in the Jan. 20-Feb. 2, 2010, issue. The legislation was before the House Committee on Public Policy for a vote at Indiana Lawyer deadline.

The bill would bring state law in line with federal law regarding income withholding and participating in family assistance programs. SB 163 also would allow various state agencies or boards to suspend licenses - such as drivers, fishing, hunting, or alcoholic beverage licenses - if child support payments aren't made. This legislation also addresses medical costs in relation to how child support is calculated, which is an ever-growing item of interest that gets at how both parents must pay for a child's health insurance.

But the part of the bill that would require casinos to check their winning patron's names against a state database of parents who owe child support has the gaming industry lobbying against the measure.

Here's how it would work. Let's say Deadbeat Mom owes Custodial Dad $4,500 in unpaid child support for the benefit of their two children. She takes some of the proceeds from her first paycheck in ages to one of our state's riverboat casinos for a night of high rolling and she hits it big, to the tune of $2,000. While she's whooping and hollering about her payday, the casino will do a check of her name against the state's database of deadbeat parents, and finding Deadbeat Mom's name there, will redirect the winnings to her two children.

It's a great scenario from the point of of view of Department of Child Services Director James Payne, a former juvenile court judge. He said during a hearing on the legislation last month that banks are currently required to perform similar checks for deadbeat parents, and that insurance companies do so now on a voluntary basis when handling insurance award payouts.

But the Casino Association of Indiana believes it's being picked on with the proposal, arguing that the database checks could cause a two-minute delay on casino floors with every win. That could add up to 13,000 work-hours every year. CAI Director Mike Smith believes the checks would cause grumbling on the casino floors and cause gamblers who might be snagged by the database to go outside Indiana for their fun.

"With our tax burdens, we are paying our fair share to have the privilege of operating in Indiana," Smith told the committee last month. "We just ask not to be additionally burdened."

He's right about the tax portion of his argument. Indiana is second only to Nevada in the amount of tax revenue it earns from gaming, taking in $838.2 million in 2008. The figures for 2009 aren't currently available.

Casinos already are required to generate tax forms for people who win more than $1,200 on slot machines and more than $600 from certain types of other gambling. Smith thinks it makes more sense to send that information not only to the Indiana Department of Revenue but also the DCS for review for child support collections.

The only problem with that idea is the money will surely already have been spent by the time the state could learn it's available to collect.

Most lawmakers like the bill, while one voted against it because he thought it didn't go far enough and should involve other industries.

We believe this is one of those ideas that's just too good to pass up. A state that puts up with collecting only 58 percent of its court-ordered child support payments ought to do all it can to do better by its children.*

 

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  1. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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