Louisiana Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, on Monday presented a bill to the state's Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee that would create a centralized collection department to work along with the Department of Revenue and the Attorney General's Office.

The state government could generate an additional $180 million to $200 million over five years by creating the department to pursue payments more than 60 days past due, he said.

HB629 passed through committee without opposition and heads to the Senate floor, likely making a stop first in the state Senate Finance committee. 

State agencies are currently owed more than $1.4 billion with approximately $700 million of it at least 180 days past due. The debts range from delinquent college tuition installments to upaid environmental monitoring fees.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals alone has more than $251 million in overdue bills. The state's Department of Revenue is owed more than $168 million, according to State Treasurer John Kennedy.

As part of the bill, the state's revenue department could snag tax refunds, casino winnings and funds from bank accounts from debtors owing money to the state. Driver’s and hunting licenses also could be held up.

The committee steered dollars toward a Louisiana State Police training academy as part of the proposed legislation. If the bill becomes law with the amendment intact, new troopers would be trained for the first time in several years.

Another key change made to the bill by the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee entails instead of putting the millions of dollars expected to be collected from old debts into a pot for legislators to spend, the money would be returned to the state agency owed the debt. The $5 million cost of a State Police training academy would come off the top first for five years.

The state began reviewing options for boosting collections in July 2012.

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