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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. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  5. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

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