If your state allows wage garnishment, you might want to follow Utah’s example and try to pass a bill that allows judgment creditors to access judgment debtor employment information (name and address of last known employer) directly from the State DWS (Department of Workforce Services) database without the need and expense of debtor examinations, supplemental proceedings or the uncertain outcome of a GRAMA request (Government Records Access and Management Act).

The National List of Attorneys first heard about UT Senate Bill 281, passed the last day of the legislative session and signed by Utah’s Governor on April 1, from Greg Constantino of Constantino Law Office, P.C. Greg is the author of the NL white paper on Utah Debt Collection laws, published by NL on April 5th. Because his overview of the Bill didn’t get to us in time to be included in his paper, this follow-up article tells how it all came about. S.B. 281 goes into effect on May 14, 2013.

Who the idea for the Bill came from

Another source led us to Utah Attorney Christopher Rogers of Johnson Mark LLC. The firm was the first to come up with the idea for the Bill. Chris helped to draft the initial provisions, and the firm was backed financially by Constantino Law and others, who helped to pay for “the best lobbyist we could find. We attended legislative hearings, negotiated with the Dept. of Labor and with UT DWS.” Their lobbyist was “very well-connected, knew everybody, even the Governor, and was able to help at every level,” Chris reported in an interview with Marti Lythgoe, NL Editor, on April 11th.

What the process will be under the new law

Under the new law, the process to obtain the information is this: an attorney files a motion with the court requesting debtor employment information directly from the DWS, the motion is served on the judgment debtor and the DWS, after considering any opposition filed by the DWS or the debtor (not likely once precedent is established), the court grants the motion that the request is exempt from GRAMA and enters an Order for the information. The DWS charges the Judgment Creditor a “reasonable fee” (as yet undetermined) for the cost of processing the request, and the information is released to the attorney.

The “How-To” Story According to Chris Rogers of Johnson Mark

If you would like your state to pass a similar bill, the details of the Utah story, as told by Chris Rogers, could be helpful as well as interesting. An approximate retelling of Marti’s interview with him, published with his approval, can be found under Legal Resources on The National List Website, or here: http://www.nationallist.com/white_papers/utsb281.

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