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Governor Vetoes Provisions Permitting Commercial Bail in Wisconsin Budget Bill

Monday, July 1, 2013  

The Wisconsin budget bill, AB 40, as sent to the Governor would have authorized the establishment of a pilot program for commercial bail bonds. This year’s budget bill passed with a contentious debate in the legislature over several issues, including attempts to remove the bail bond provisions through a Senate floor amendment. The amendment to remove the bail bond provisions was tabled in the Senate in close vote of 17-16. The bail bond provisions survived the legislature, but Governor Walker has the authority to veto portions of the budget bill. Facing pressure to veto the bail provisions from the law enforcement community, the Governor used his veto powers to remove the bail provisions from the bill. The Governor previously used this authority to veto bail bond provisions in the budget bill two years ago, citing a lack of time to study the issue. When presented the bail provisions again, the Governor did not believe that the concerns had been addressed, and so he used his veto powers to remove the provisions.

In his veto message on the bail bonds, the Governor stated that he objected to the "potential negative impact on the payment of restitution to victims and fines. Just as the creation of an additional surcharge will detract from existing crime victim services and law enforcement programs, the allocation of 10 percent of the bond to these entities will reduce funds for these important programs.” The Governor’s message also stated that the policy should "addressed through separate legislation to provide opportunity for additional study of the current system of pretrial release and to allow for public input.”

The bill would have permitted commercial bail on a limited basis with a statewide implementation in five years. The bill would have permitted bail bond agents, bail bond agencies, and bail recovery agents in an action brought in Dane, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha counties in a five-year pilot program. The bill would have established licensing and credentialing requirements for bail bond agents, bail bond agencies, and bail recovery agents, and it would have allowed a licensed bail bond agent or bail bond agency to act as a surety under current law provisions related to bail and other conditions of release. Licensed bail bond agents or licensed bail bond agencies would have been permitted to be compensated at a rate of 10% of the amount of the bail bond set. Bail bonds would have to be issued by a surety company authorized to do business in Wisconsin. The bill provided that education, training, and examination requirements would be established by rule. The bill outlined the Department’s administrative responsibilities for agent licensing. Agents would have been required to furnish a bond or liability policy in connection with licensure.

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