Rep. Jim Clark, R-Hayden Lake, made an impassioned pitch to the House Thursday to let bail bond agents have an extra six months to nab and turn in bail-jumpers and still get paid, but the House killed the bill, HB 450, on a 43-23 vote.
Clark said, “We’re talking about chasing the bad guys who have jumped bail. … We’re not talking about … world peace. We’re talking about criminals.”
But opponents of the bill said Aladdin Bail Bonds, the multi-state firm whose lobbyist sought the bill, grants bail bonds on credit, while longstanding Idaho tradition among bail bond agents is to require collateral. That’s more likely to bring the bail-jumpers in within the existing 90-day period, they said.
“The system is working,” said Rep. Mike Mitchell, D-Lewiston. “This new company can work within the 90-day limit just like the other bail agents in Idaho.”
Clark characterized the issue as one pitting a “red team” against a “blue team,” with different views of the bail issue. In the extensive House debate, several members said they were on the “red team” against the bill. Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, spoke in favor of it, and said, “I’m on the green team.” “Blue team,” corrected House Speaker Bruce Newcomb.
Several representatives characterized the bail bond company in question as the “Wal-Mart” of bail bonds, and Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, hearkened back to Clark’s advocacy for “mom and pop” cigar stores on an earlier bill. “It sounds to me like this is going to hurt the little mom and pop bondsman – we might could call them the little retail cigar store bondsmen,” he said.
Mitchell said there was one difference between the “red team” and the “blue team”: “The red team is right.” “This is about the best debate I’ve heard,” commented a chuckling Newcomb.
When the House voting board lit up with red lights and it was clear the bill had failed, Newcomb announced amid surging laughter, “The red team wins.”