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Bill Addressing Jail For Fines Clears First Hurdle

DENVER (AP) — A bill addressing concerns over poor people being jailed for failing to pay municipal court fines cleared its first Colorado House committee.

The proposal forbids courts from jailing people who don’t have the means to pay a fine. Defendants must also be instructed that if they’re unable to pay a fine, they must contact the court for a hearing to explain why they can’t pay.

The proposal passed the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday with unanimous support. The bill is headed to another committee.

Democratic Rep. Joe Salazar, the bill sponsor, modified his bill substantially in response to opposition from local governments. Salazar’s proposal now gives courts greater ability to dictate payment plans.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Colorado says failure-to-pay warrants are common in municipal courts.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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