Bill Text

PDF |Add To My Favorites |Track Bill | print page

AB-1531 Court fees: electronic filing.(2017-2018)

SHARE THIS:share this bill in Facebookshare this bill in Twitter
Date Published: 01/10/2018 09:00 PM
AB1531:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  January 10, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  September 13, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 28, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1531


Introduced by Assembly Member Berman

February 17, 2017


An act to amend Section 6159 of the Government Code, relating to court fees.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1531, as amended, Berman. Court fees: electronic filing.
Existing law authorizes a court, subject to Judicial Council approval, to accept a credit card, debit card, or electronic funds transfer in payment of designated obligations, including filing fees and other court fees. Existing law authorizes a court or agent of the court to impose a fee, subject to Judicial Council approval, for the use of a credit or debit card or electronic funds transfer, as specified. Existing law, for purposes of this provision, deems an electronic filing service provider who is required to collect and remit a filing fee or other court fee to complete an electronic filing transaction to be an agent of the court solely for that purpose, unless otherwise specified.
This bill, in case of a duplicate payment by a party or an electronic filing service provider submitting a payment on behalf of a party, would require the court to issue any appropriate refund to the entity that made the most recent payment. The bill also would make a conforming change.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 6159 of the Government Code is amended to read:

6159.
 (a) The following definitions apply for purposes of this section:
(1) “Credit card” means a card, plate, coupon book, or other credit device existing for the purpose of being used from time to time upon presentation to obtain money, property, labor, or services on credit.
(2) “Card issuer” means a person, or his or her agent, who issues a credit card and purchases credit card drafts.
(3) “Cardholder” means a person to whom a credit card is issued or any person who has agreed with the card issuer to pay obligations arising from the issuance of a credit card to another person.
(4) “Debit card” means a card or other means of access to a debit card cardholder’s account that may be used to initiate electronic funds transfers from that account.
(5) “Draft purchaser” means a person who purchases credit card drafts.
(6) “Electronic funds transfer” means a method by which a person permits electronic access to, and transfer of, money held in an account by that person.
(b) Subject to subdivisions (c) and (d), a court, city, county, city and county, or other public agency may authorize the acceptance of a credit card, debit card, or electronic funds transfer for any of the following:
(1) The payment for the deposit of bail for any offense not declared to be a felony or for a court-ordered fee, fine, forfeiture, penalty, assessment, or restitution. Use of a card or electronic funds transfer pursuant to this paragraph may include a requirement that the defendant be charged an administrative fee charged by the company issuing the card or processing the account for the cost of the transaction.
(2) The payment of a filing fee or other court fee.
(3) The payment of towage or storage costs for a vehicle that has been removed from a highway, or from public or private property, as a result of parking violations.
(4) The payment of child, family, or spousal support, including reimbursement of public assistance, related fees, costs, or penalties, with the authorization of the cardholder or accountholder.
(5) The payment for services rendered by a city, county, city and county, or other public agency.
(6) The payment of a fee, charge, or tax due a city, county, city and county, or other public agency.
(7) The payment of moneys payable to the sheriff pursuant to a levy under a writ of attachment or writ of execution. If the use of a card or electronic funds transfer pursuant to this paragraph includes any administrative fee charged by the company issuing the card or processing the account for the cost of the transaction, that fee shall be paid by the person who pays the money to the sheriff pursuant to the levy.
(8) The payment of a donation, gift, bequest, or devise made to or in favor of a county, or to or in favor of a county board of supervisors, pursuant to Section 25355.
(c) A court desiring to authorize the use of a credit card, debit card, or electronic funds transfer pursuant to subdivision (b) shall obtain the approval of the Judicial Council. A city desiring to authorize the use of a credit card, debit card, or electronic funds transfer pursuant to subdivision (b) shall obtain the approval of its city council. Any other public agency desiring to authorize the use of a credit card, debit card, or electronic funds transfer pursuant to subdivision (b) shall obtain the approval of the governing body that has fiscal responsibility for that agency.
(d) After approval is obtained, a contract may be executed with one or more credit card issuers, debit card issuers, electronic funds transfer processors, or draft purchasers. The contract shall provide for the following matters:
(1) The respective rights and duties of the court, city, county, city and county, or other public agency and card issuer, funds processor, or draft purchaser regarding the presentment, acceptability, and payment of credit and debit card drafts and electronic funds transfer requests.
(2) The establishment of a reasonable means by which to facilitate payment settlements.
(3) The payment to the card issuer, funds processor, or draft purchaser of a reasonable fee or discount.
(4) Any other matters appropriately included in contracts with respect to the purchase of credit and debit card drafts and processing of electronic funds transfer requests as may be agreed upon by the parties to the contract.
(e) The honoring of a credit card, debit card, or electronic funds transfer pursuant to subdivision (b) constitutes payment of the amount owing to the court, city, county, city and county, or other public agency as of the date the credit or debit card is honored or the electronic funds transfer is processed, if the credit or debit card draft is paid following its due presentment to a card issuer or draft purchaser or the electronic funds transfer is completed with transfer to the agency requesting the transfer.
(f) If a credit or debit card draft is not paid following due presentment to a card issuer or draft purchaser or is charged back to the court, agent of the court, city, county, city and county, or other public agency for any reason, any record of payment made by the court, city, or other public agency honoring the credit or debit card shall be void. If an electronic funds transfer request is not completed with transfer to the agency requesting the transfer or is charged back to the agency for any reason, any record of payment made by the agency processing the electronic funds transfer shall be void. A receipt issued in acknowledgment of payment shall also be void. The obligation of the cardholder or accountholder shall continue as an outstanding obligation as if no payment had been attempted.
(g) If a credit card, debit card draft, electronic funds transfer, or other payment offered in payment is returned without payment, for any reason, a reasonable charge for the charge back or return, not to exceed the actual costs incurred by the public agency, may be imposed to recover the public agency’s processing and collection costs. This charge may be added to, and become part of, any underlying obligation other than an obligation that constitutes a lien on real property, and a different method of payment for that payment and future payments by this person may be prescribed.
(h) (1) Notwithstanding Title 1.3 (commencing with Section 1747) of Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code, a court or agent of the court, city, county, city and county, or any other public agency may impose a fee for the use of a credit or debit card or electronic funds transfer, not to exceed the costs incurred by the agency or agent in providing for payment by credit or debit card or electronic funds transfer. These costs may include, but shall not be limited to, the payment of fees or discounts as specified in paragraph (3) of subdivision (d). A fee imposed by a court or agent of the court pursuant to this subdivision shall be approved by the Judicial Council. A fee imposed by any other public agency pursuant to this subdivision for the use of a credit or debit card or electronic funds transfer shall be approved by the governing body responsible for the fiscal decisions of the public agency.
(2) For purposes of this subdivision, an electronic filing service provider who is required to collect and remit a payment described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) to complete an electronic filing transaction is deemed an agent of the court. Unless otherwise specified, the electronic filing service provider is deemed an agent of the court for the sole purpose of collecting and remitting a payment described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) for an electronic filing transaction. In case of a duplicate payment by a party or an electronic filing service provider submitting a payment on behalf of a party, the court shall issue any appropriate refund to the entity that made the most recent payment.
(3) A court shall not be held liable for the actions of an agent of the court under this subdivision.
(4) An agent of the court shall report its costs in providing for payment by credit or debit card, or electronic funds transfer. These reports shall be issued pursuant to guidelines adopted by the Judicial Council. For purposes of verifying the accuracy of these reports and compliance with this subdivision, the Judicial Council, or its authorized representative, shall have the right to access and examine the records and documents of an agent of the court. The agent of the court shall provide the Judicial Council with all relevant information requested, and shall permit access to its premises at reasonable times for purposes of interviewing employees, and inspecting and copying any relevant records. The agent of the court shall maintain all records and documents relating to its fees and costs for a minimum of four years from the date the fee is imposed, or until the verification process is completed, whichever occurs later.
(i) Fees or discounts provided for under paragraph (3) of subdivision (d) shall be deducted or accounted for before any statutory or other distribution of funds received from the card issuer, funds processor, or draft purchaser to the extent not recovered from the cardholder or accountholder pursuant to subdivision (h).
(j) The Judicial Council may enter into a master agreement with one or more credit or debit card issuers, funds processors, or draft purchasers for the acceptance and payment of credit or debit card drafts and electronic funds transfer requests received by the courts. A court may join in any of these master agreements or may enter into a separate agreement with a credit or debit card issuer, funds processor, or draft purchaser.
(k) An electronic filing service provider, as described in subdivision (h), shall not collect or attempt to collect a fee to complete an electronic filing transaction, including a fee to process a payment, a filing fee or other court fee, or a fee charged by the electronic filing service provider for electronically filing documents, from a party who is exempt from paying fees; provided, however, that the electronic filing service provider shall complete the filing notwithstanding the fee exemption.
(l) A court, or an electronic filing manager that provides a court, pursuant to a contract, with a system for accepting electronically transmitted documents and associated filing and other court fees, shall accept more than one method of payment from an electronic filing service provider described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (h). The court shall determine the methods of payment that will be accepted by the court and the electronic filing manager. The methods of payment may include credit or debit cards, electronic funds transfers, electronic networks for financial transactions such as Automated Clearing House (ACH), and other payment methods that do not charge a transaction cost.