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Provision in new bill would withhold 'big' wins from deadbeat parents

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State lawmakers want to crack down on child support collections and make it tougher for deadbeat parents to not pay what's owed.

A multi-pronged piece of legislation already moving through the Indiana Senate in the session's first weeks would revise a handful of state statutes involving back child support, a $2 billion statewide problem encompassing 165,000 noncustodial parents who owe at least $2,000 each in back payments.

To address that issue, Senate Bill 163 focuses on various angles of the state system in handling child support collections; the bill is being pushed by the Indiana Department of Child Services that handles much of the collection process. Supporters include Gov. Mitch Daniels, who said the idea makes sense in a state where just 58 percent of child support payments are collected.

The bill would match state statute with what federal law says on income withholding and particiapating in family assistance programs, allow various state agencies or boards to suspend licenses - such as drivers', fishing, hunting, or alcoholic beverage licenses - if payments aren't made. This legislation also touches on medical costs in relation to how child support is calculated, an ever-growing item of interest that delves into how both parents must pay for a child's health insurance.

But the most controversial part a of the bill introduces a gaming interception provision that would allow the state to seize delinquent child support on certain larger casino wins. Casinos would have to check gamblers with single-game winnings of at least a certain amount, against a list of deadbeat parents who are at least $2,000 behind in child-support payments.. Amounts discussed included a $1,200 minimum amount, so that someone would have to win at least that much before anything could be frozen and put toward the delinquent child support.

DCS Director James Payne, a former juvenile judge in Marion County, , told lawmakers that the legislation would be a similar setup to how banks are currently required to do periodic checks against a database for anyone who owes child support, and how the insurance industry voluntarily participates in a similar check when handling insurance award payouts. Other states, such as Colorado, use this method, and lawmakers questioned whether this would be beneficial to the state or overly burden the gaming industry.

"We recognize this could be a burden on the gaming institutes ... but this is important to make sure these children get the support legally owed to them," Payne said.

The Casino Association of Indiana feels the legislation unfairly targets the state's gaming industry and would cause a two-minute delay on casino floors while names of winners are checked against an electronic list of people who owe child support. That could mean more than 13,000 work-hours annually, just for the checks. This would result in widespread waits and could cause gamblers who might be impacted by this bill to go outside Indiana to gamble, according to the group's director Mike Smith.

"With our tax burdens, we are paying our fair share to have the privilege of operating in Indiana," he said. "We just ask not to be additionally burdened."

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

But several lawmakers voiced frustration with that argument. Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, said the state created the gambling industry and casinos need to play by its rules. The state is simply asking for the same help in collecting child support that banks, insurance companies, and other industries provide, he said.

"I'm not too sympathetic," he said.

Lawmakers first discussed the topic Jan. 6 but followed up on Jan. 13 by voting to send it to the full Senate for consideration. All senators present to vote agreed with the idea of requiring this check and money freezing from casinos. However, Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, who voted against its passage, said the bill doesn't go far enough. He wants to see legislation that would require the insurance industry to do this and wants to look at how other industries might be involved.

"This should have been done a long time ago," he said. "But I don't think it's strong enough at this point. This is a good bill, but I'm voting no because it has a lot left to be considered."

All the other committee members in attendance voted in favor of the bill, including those who'd expressed concerns a week earlier about the gaming industry impact, that private industry is being singled out, or that state revenue could be negatively impacted by this bill. Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, was absent.

Voting in favor of the legislation, Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, was skeptical about the casino's argument of not being able to easily put this system into place because this is a "day of technology" and those types of things are commonplace in the public and private sectors. He also wondered why the bill had a threshold of $1,200 before any winnings could be frozen.

"That's a good compromise number, but really I think we should be looking at the first dollar won," he said. "Why should we enrich someone who owes child support and isn't keeping up with their obligations?"

Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, also expressed his support of the legislation as public policy but indicated he could see the gaming industry's side of the debate because it effectively gives the industry the role of "collection agent" to a degree.

Committee chair Sen. Richard Bray, R-Martinsville, told the gaming industry that negotiations would continue about how that component of the bill would be included as the legislation progresses. Bray described it as having "a long way to go before being finished," even though the Indiana General Assembly is in a short session and must wrap up its work by March 14.

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  1. Call it unauthorized law if you must, a regulatory wrong, but it was fraud and theft well beyond that, a seeming crime! "In three specific cases, the hearing officer found that Westerfield did little to no work for her clients but only issued a partial refund or no refund at all." That is theft by deception, folks. "In its decision to suspend Westerfield, the Supreme Court noted that she already had a long disciplinary history dating back to 1996 and had previously been suspended in 2004 and indefinitely suspended in 2005. She was reinstated in 2009 after finally giving the commission a response to the grievance for which she was suspended in 2004." WOW -- was the Indiana Supreme Court complicit in her fraud? Talk about being on notice of a real bad actor .... "Further, the justices noted that during her testimony, Westerfield was “disingenuous and evasive” about her relationship with Tope and attempted to distance herself from him. They also wrote that other aggravating factors existed in Westerfield’s case, such as her lack of remorse." WOW, and yet she only got 18 months on the bench, and if she shows up and cries for them in a year and a half, and pays money to JLAP for group therapy ... back in to ride roughshod over hapless clients (or are they "marks") once again! Aint Hoosier lawyering a great money making adventure!!! Just live for the bucks, even if filthy lucre, and come out a-ok. ME on the other hand??? Lifetime banishment for blowing the whistle on unconstitutional governance. Yes, had I ripped off clients or had ANY disciplinary history for doing that I would have fared better, most likely, as that it would have revealed me motivated by Mammon and not Faith. Check it out if you doubt my reading of this, compare and contrast the above 18 months with my lifetime banishment from court, see appendix for Bar Examiners report which the ISC adopted without substantive review: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS

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  3. So if I am reading it right, only if and when African American college students agree to receive checks labeling them as "Negroes" do they receive aid from the UNCF or the Quaker's Educational Fund? In other words, to borrow from the Indiana Appellate Court, "the [nonprofit] supposed to be [their] advocate, refers to [students] in a racially offensive manner. While there is no evidence that [the nonprofits] intended harm to [African American students], the harm was nonetheless inflicted. [Black students are] presented to [academia and future employers] in a racially offensive manner. For these reasons, [such] performance [is] deficient and also prejudice[ial]." Maybe even DEPLORABLE???

  4. I'm the poor soul who spent over 10 years in prison with many many other prisoners trying to kill me for being charged with a sex offense THAT I DID NOT COMMIT i was in jail for a battery charge for helping a friend leave a boyfriend who beat her I've been saying for over 28 years that i did not and would never hurt a child like that mine or anybody's child but NOBODY wants to believe that i might not be guilty of this horrible crime or think that when i say that ALL the paperwork concerning my conviction has strangely DISAPPEARED or even when the long beach judge re-sentenced me over 14 months on a already filed plea bargain out of another districts court then had it filed under a fake name so i could not find while trying to fight my conviction on appeal in a nut shell people are ALWAYS quick to believe the worst about some one well I DID NOT HURT ANY CHILD EVER IN MY LIFE AND HAVE SAID THIS FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS please if anybody can me get some kind of justice it would be greatly appreciated respectfully written wrongly accused Brian Valenti

  5. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

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