INDIANAPOLIS – Waiters, blackjack dealers and liquor store clerks could lose their professional licenses if they are delinquent in paying child support under a bill considered Wednesday by the House Public Policy Committee.
Amendments and a vote on Senate Bill 163 are expected early next week.
The legislation is part of Gov. Mitch Daniels agenda and includes a number of provisions to beef up Indianas child-support collection process.
Currently, about 165,000 non-custodial parents owe more than $2 billion in back child-support payments.
One section of the bill would require casinos to intercept slot machine winnings of $1,200 or more to pay outstanding child-support obligations. It would kick in only if the person is considered delinquent – owing more than $2,000 or at least three months behind on payments.
Mike Smith, president of the Casino Association of Indiana, said his members compared a list of last years casino winners who were issued a W-2G federal income tax form with the list of delinquent parents to see what kind of money might be generated. He estimated about $1.2 million would have been collected for child support from 400 people.
That means there were hits on the child-support database less than 1 percent of the time.
One section of the bill would add alcoholic-beverage servers and Hoosiers with gaming-related licenses to the list of more than 60 licenses prosecutors can suspend to force child-support payments. State law already covers drivers licenses, hunting licenses, medical licenses and more.
Jim Payne, director of the Indiana Department of Child Services, said this measure is one of last resort because the state doesnt want to stop a person from being able to earn a paycheck. But it also gives the state more leverage.
Another section of the bill involves the suspension of welfare assistance to any relative – such as a grandparent – who is caring for a child and does not cooperate with prosecutors in finding the parents, setting up child support or establishing paternity.
Prosecutors have seen a growing number of cases where relatives take care of a child, receive welfare for that child and refuse to tell authorities who the parents are or where they are.
Several members of the committee thought this provision might be going too far, noting the relative likely cant prove he doesnt know where a person is living.
I think we are overstepping our boundaries, said Rep. Earl Harris, D-East Chicago. He also said that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or welfare, could be a lifeline for a child.
The authority for suspending public assistance already exists for the parent of a child who isnt cooperating in locating the other parent.