|Posted:||December 28, 2012 10:05 AM|
|From:||Representative Dan Moul|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Failure to Pay Child Support Previously HB 1106|
I will re-introduce legislation from last session dealing with the offense of willful failure to pay child support. It is my view that the General Assembly should increase the penalty for those who willfully fail to pay child support when they have the financial means to do so.
Two sessions ago, I first proposed increasing the grading for a second or subsequent offense of willful failure to pay support, as well as willfully failing to pay support for 12 months or more. As originally drafted in 2008, the bill increased the grading of the offense to a misdemeanor of the third degree (maximum penalty one year imprisonment/$2,500 fine) if: (1) it was a second or subsequent offense, or (2) child support was willfully withheld for at least 12 months.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 187-9 on June 2, 2008. However, the Senate added an amendment which changed the nature of the bill and, in my mind, substantially weakened it. Although the Senate version became law (Act 104 of 2008), I believe that the House of Representatives had a better approach.
The bill I introduced last session, HB 1106, was amended by the House Judiciary Committee. The bill struck the troublesome language inserted by the Senate but changed the grading to an ungraded misdemeanor. As amended by the House Judiciary Committee, the maximum penalty would be a term of imprisonment not to exceed six months and a fine of up to $2,500.
I support this change and accordingly will re-introduce HB 1106 this session with the language approved by the House Judiciary Committee.
The Department of Public Welfare sets the amount of uncollected child support in Pennsylvania at $1.4 billion, as of federal fiscal year 2007. The $1.4 billion is cumulative, representing uncollected child support since 1975. In 2008, in my home county of Adams, there were 193 outstanding bench warrants related to non-payment of child support. This represents an unpaid balance of over $1.5 million.
To be clear, this legislation only targets those who have the means to pay support but refuse to support their children. Unfortunately, the need for this legislation is illustrated by cases of willful non-payment. For example, decisions handed down by the Superior Court in recent years dealt with a gentleman who owed over $37,000 in back support and another gentleman who owed over $32,000. Another case, that prosecuted by then U.S. Attorney March Beth Buchanan of the Western District of Pennsylvania, involved a gentleman who owed over $45,000 in back support.
House Bill 1106 of last session had the support of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, as that office is responsible for the collection of unpaid child support. It also had the support of Judge Albert Bell of Westmoreland County, a family court judge.
Former HB 1106 Cosponsors: MOUL, BARRAR, BOBACK, BOYD, CAUSER, P. COSTA, CUTLER, EVERETT, FARRY, FLECK, GEIST, GILLESPIE, GINGRICH, GRELL, GROVE, HARHART, HARKINS, HARRIS, HESS, HICKERNELL, KAUFFMAN, M. K. KELLER, LONGIETTI, MARSHALL, MILLER, MILNE, MURT, PETRARCA, RAPP, REICHLEY, SONNEY, TALLMAN, TAYLOR, VULAKOVICH, THOMAS, TOEPEL AND STEPHENS
Introduced as HB255