Senate OKs collections bill

The state will contract out collection of $6 million in bad debt if House Bill 153 makes it into law.

The House passed the bill last year and the Senate finally passed it on Wednesday, amending it to put the bidding process in the hands of the Department of Administration Services after the attorney general’s office complained that it not only doesn’t have the staff to collect the debt, but the time and experience to properly bid the contracts.

The change somewhat mollified the concerns of Sen. Joe Foster, D-Nashua, but he was still worried about heavy-handed collection firms receiving the contracts. He wanted the collection restricted to law firms, maintaining that they would be less likely to break the law.

“This is the state. It is not Blockbuster Video trying to get its late fees,” said Foster.

But Sen. Lou D’Alessandro, D-Manchester, was more worried about the aging debt, which he said “becomes uncollectible debt.”

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 190, which would prevent communities from banning workforce housing, but cut out an appeals process for those that wish to enforce the new law, opting to replace it with a study committee instead. Contractors and real estate brokers have generally been supportive of the original bill, arguing that such local restrictions were cutting into development.

Senators also passed HB 599, which would require auto dealers to disclose if they put data recording devices in the cars they sell and put restrictions on who can see the information. The devices record the data primarily to analyze crashes and the performance of air bags.

Senators maintained that it was a privacy issue to protect such information. – BOB SANDERS

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