1997 Regular Session
To: Business and Financial Institutions
By: Senator(s) Kirby
Senate Bill 2513
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 83-39-1, 83-39-3, 83-39-5 AND 83-39-9, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE FOR A BAIL AGENT INTERN LICENSE AND TO ESTABLISH CERTAIN EDUCATION STANDARDS FOR LICENSURE; TO AMEND SECTION 83-39-11, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCREASE THE LICENSING FEES FOR PROFESSIONAL AND SOLICITING BAIL AGENTS AND TO ESTABLISH A FEE FOR THE LICENSING OF BAIL AGENT INTERNS; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO CREATE A BOARD OF BAIL BONDS AND BONDSMEN WHOSE DUTIES SHALL BE TO ESTABLISH THE PRELICENSE AND CONTINUING EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS FOR LICENSURE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 83-39-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
83-39-1. The following terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings:
(a) "Department" means the Department of Insurance.
(b) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Insurance.
(c) "Insurer" means any domestic or foreign insurance corporation or association engaged in the business of insurance or suretyship which has qualified to transact surety or casualty business in this state.
(d) "Professional bail agent" means any individual who shall furnish bail, acting as a licensed personal surety agent or as a licensed limited surety agent representing an insurer as defined by this chapter and who has previously held a soliciting bail agent license for at least two (2) years. However, any person licensed as a professional bail agent before July 1, 1997, shall be exempt from the requirement of holding a soliciting bail agent license for two (2) years. The above definition shall not include, and this chapter does not apply to, any individual who acts as personal surety in instances where there is no compensation charged or received for such service.
(e) "Soliciting bail agent" means any person who, as an agent or employee of a professional bail agent, or as an independent contractor, for compensation or otherwise, shall solicit, advertise or actively seek bail bond business for or on behalf of a professional bail agent and who assists the professional bail agent in presenting the defendant in court when required or assists in the apprehension and surrender of the defendant to the court or keeps the defendant under necessary surveillance.
(f) "Bail enforcement agent" means a person who assists the professional bail agent in presenting the defendant in court when required, or who assists in the apprehension and surrender of the defendant to the court or who keeps the defendant under necessary surveillance. Nothing herein shall affect the right of professional bail agents to have counsel or to ask assistance of law enforcement officers.
(g) "Limited surety agent" means any individual who is appointed by an insurer by power of attorney to execute or countersign bail bonds in connection with judicial proceedings, and who is duly licensed as a professional bail agent or soliciting bail agent by the commissioner to represent such insurer for the restricted lines of bail, fidelity and surety, after successfully completing a limited examination by the department for the restricted lines of business.
(h) "Personal surety agent" means any individual who, having posted the necessary qualification bond with the commissioner as required by Section 83-39-7, and duly licensed by the commissioner, may execute and sign bail bonds in connection with judicial proceedings. All new personal surety agents licensed after July 1, 1994, shall complete successfully a limited examination by the department for the restricted lines of business.
(i) "Bail agent intern" means any applicant for a bail license who has not held a professional or soliciting bail agent license within the previous six (6) months. Such bail agent intern shall be licensed under one (1) professional bail agent who shall be directly and indirectly responsible for all actions of such intern. The intern license shall be for a maximum period of one (1) year and shall not be renewed. If all education and other licensing requirements have been met after six (6) months from issuance, then the intern license may be converted to a soliciting bail agent license. Any person licensed before July 1, 1997, shall be exempt from the intern license requirement unless his license has expired, been suspended or revoked for a period of more than six (6) months.
SECTION 2. Section 83-39-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
83-39-3. (1) No person shall act in the capacity of professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent, * * * bail enforcement agent or bail agent intern, as defined in Section 83-39-1, or perform any of the functions, duties or powers of the same unless that person shall be qualified and licensed as provided in this chapter. The terms of this chapter shall not apply to any automobile club or association, financial institution, insurance company, or other organization or association or their employees who execute bail bonds on violations arising out of the use of a motor vehicle by their members, policyholders or borrowers when bail bond is not the principal benefit of membership, the policy of insurance or of a loan to such member, policyholder or borrower.
(2) No license shall be issued except in compliance with this chapter, and none shall be issued except to an individual. No firm, partnership, association or corporation, as such, shall be so licensed. No professional bail agent shall operate under more than one (1) trade name. A soliciting bail agent and bail enforcement agent shall operate only under the professional bail agent's name. No person who has ever been convicted of a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude during the previous ten (10) years, or who has not been a resident of this state for at least one (1) year, unless presently licensed for bail bonds, or who is under twenty-one (21) years of age, shall be issued a license hereunder. No person engaged as a law enforcement or judicial official or attorney shall be licensed hereunder. No person licensed under this chapter shall act as a personal surety agent in the writing of bail during a period he or she is licensed as a limited surety agent, as defined herein.
(3) No license shall be issued to any person, or such person's spouse, child or sibling, who is employed either directly or indirectly by any state, county or municipal law enforcement agency, unless such person, or spouse, child or sibling, was licensed prior to July 1, 1997. No license shall be issued to any person who does not possess a high school diploma or GED equivalent. No license shall be issued to any person who has not satisfactorily completed all educational requirements established by the commissioner. Any person licensed prior to July 1, 1997, shall be exempt from the educational requirements necessary to obtain an initial license, but shall be subject to all continuing education requirements.
(4) The department is vested with the authority to enforce this chapter. The department may conduct investigations or request other state, county or local officials to conduct investigations and promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary for the enforcement of this chapter. The department may establish monetary fines and collect such fines as necessary for the enforcement of such rules and regulations. All fines collected shall be deposited in the Special Insurance Department Fund for the operation of that agency.
(5) Each license issued hereunder shall expire annually on the last day of February, unless revoked or suspended prior thereto by the department, or upon notice served upon the commissioner by the insurer that the authority of a limited surety agent to act for or in behalf of such insurer had been terminated, or upon notice served upon the commissioner by a professional bail agent that the employment of a soliciting bail agent, * * * bail enforcement agent or bail agent intern had been terminated by such professional bail agent.
(6) The department shall prepare and deliver to each licensee a certificate showing the name, address and classification of such licensee, and shall certify that the person is a licensed professional bail agent, being either a personal surety agent or a limited surety agent, a soliciting bail agent or a bail enforcement agent or bail agent intern. In addition, the certificate, if for a soliciting bail agent, * * * bail enforcement agent or bail agent intern, shall show the name of the professional bail agent and any other information as the commissioner deems proper.
(7) The commissioner, after a hearing under Section 83-39-17, may refuse to issue a privilege license for a soliciting bail agent to change from one professional bail agent to another if he owes any premium or debt to the professional bail agent with whom he is currently licensed.
SECTION 3. Section 83-39-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
83-39-5. Any person desiring to engage in the business of professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent, * * * bail enforcement agent or bail agent intern in this state shall apply to the department for a license on forms prepared and furnished by the department. The application for a license, or renewal thereof, shall set forth, under oath, the following information:
(a) Full name, age, date of birth, social security number, residence during the previous five (5) years, occupation and business address of the applicant.
(b) Spouse's full name, occupation and business address.
(c) A photograph of the applicant, a full set of fingerprints and a report from the sheriff of the applicant's county of residence that the applicant has no felony record on file with the U.S. National Crime Information Center.
(d) A statement that he is not licensed to practice law in the State of Mississippi or any other state and that no attorney or any convicted felon has any interest in his application, either directly or indirectly.
(e) Any other information as may be required by this chapter or by the department.
(f) In the case of a professional bail agent, a statement that he will actively engage in the bail bond business.
(g) In the case of a soliciting bail agent, bail enforcement agent or bail agent intern, a statement that he will be employed or used by only one (1) professional bail agent and that the professional bail agent will supervise his work and be responsible for his conduct in his work. A professional bail agent shall sign the application of each soliciting bail agent, bail enforcement agent or bail agent intern employed or used by him.
SECTION 4. Section 83-39-9, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
83-39-9. The department upon receipt of the license application, the required fee, * * * proof of the required pre-license or continuing education and, in the case of a professional bail agent, an approved qualification bond in the required amount, shall issue to the applicant a license to do business as a professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent, * * * bail enforcement agent or bail agent intern, as the case may be.
No licensed professional bail agent shall have in his employ in the bail bond business any person who could not qualify for a license under this chapter, nor shall any licensed professional bail agent have as a partner or associate in such business any person who could not so qualify.
SECTION 5. Section 83-39-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
83-39-11. Each license application and application for license renewal to engage in the business of professional bail agent shall be accompanied by a fee of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00). Each license application and application for license renewal to engage in the business of soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent shall be accompanied by a fee of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00). Each license application for a bail agent intern shall be accompanied by a fee to be charged only one (1) time of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00).
SECTION 6. (1) There is hereby created a Board of Bail Bonds and Bondsmen whose duties shall be to establish the prelicense and continuing education requirements for licensure under this chapter. The board shall be composed of the following nine (9) members:
(a) The Commissioner of Insurance or his designee;
(b) One (1) member who is the current president of the Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi; the term of such member shall run concurrently with the term of office for the association;
(c) One (1) member, who shall have been continuously licensed as a bail agent for at least five (5) years, to be appointed by the commissioner from the state at large; the term of such member shall be for three (3) years;
(d) Three (3) members, who shall have been continuously licensed as a bail agent for at least five (5) years, to be appointed by the commissioner, one (1) from each Supreme Court district; the term of such members shall be for three (3) years;
(e) One (1) sheriff to be appointed by the commissioner for a term of one (1) year;
(f) One (1) district attorney to be appointed by the commissioner for a term of one (1) year; and
(g) One (1) circuit judge to be appointed by the commissioner for a term of one (1) year.
(2) The board shall elect a chairman who shall serve for one (1) year.
(3) The board shall meet at least once a year in Jackson, Mississippi, and as necessary when called by the commissioner. The board shall serve without any compensation and reimbursement of expenses.
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.