Fiscal Note & Local Impact Statement

126 th General Assembly of Ohio

Ohio Legislative Service Commission

77 South High Street, 9th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215-6136 Phone: (614) 466-3615

Internet Web Site: http://www.lsc.state.oh.us/

BILL:

Sub. H.B. 551

DATE:

December 19, 2006

STATUS:

As Passed by the Senate

SPONSOR:

Rep. Latta

LOCAL IMPACT STATEMENT:

Negligible cost impact on local governments

 


CONTENTS:

False emergency alert and wrongful imprisonment calculation

 

State Fiscal Highlights

 

STATE FUND

FY 2007

FY 2008

FUTURE YEARS

General Revenue Fund (GRF)

Revenues

- 0 -

- 0 -

- 0 -

Expenditures

(1) Potential negligible incarceration cost increase; (2) Potential increase or decrease in awards associated with wrongful imprisonment cases

(1) Potential negligible incarceration cost increase; (2) Potential increase or decrease in awards associated with wrongful imprisonment cases

(1) Potential negligible incarceration cost increase; (2) Potential increase or decrease in awards associated with wrongful imprisonment cases

Victims of Crime/Reparations Fund (Fund 402)

Revenues

Potential negligible gain in locally collected court costs

Potential negligible gain in locally collected court costs

Potential negligible gain in locally collected court costs

Expenditures

- 0 -

- 0 -

- 0 -

Note: The state fiscal year is July 1 through June 30. For example, FY 2006 is July 1, 2005 June 30, 2006.

 

        Incarceration expenditures. By enhancing the falsification offense under certain circumstances from a misdemeanor to a felony, the bill creates the possibility that a person who could not otherwise have been sentenced to a prison term under current law can theoretically at least be sentenced to a prison term in the future. Assuming that such conduct continues to be extremely rare, then very few, if any, additional offenders might be sentenced to prison subsequent to the bill's enactment, and any related increase in the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's GRF-funded incarceration costs may be so insignificant as to be virtually undetectable. An additional offender or two occasionally sentenced to prison will typically have no noticeable fiscal effects on an institutional prison population that, as of November 2006, totaled just under 48,000 inmates.

        Wrongful imprisonment formula. The bill modifies the formula used by the Auditor of State in determining the amount of the adjustment to be made in the dollar figure specified by statute for a recovery by a wrongfully imprisoned individual. As a result, individuals who may be eligible for a monetary award based on a claim of wrongful imprisonment (as determined by the Court of Claims) may receive a larger or smaller settlement award depending on whether the consumer price index (CPI) adjustment increases or decreases over the two-year period. Given the number of factors that are considered when making such awards, one of which is formula-driven, it is difficult to predict with any certainty the potential impact on the state's GRF, which is the typical source of moneys for the payment of wrongful imprisonment settlements. Presumably, future payments would increase or decrease by some unknown degree.

        Court cost revenues. As a result of a person being convicted of, or pleading guilty to, the penalty enhanced conduct, the state may gain an additional $21 in locally collected state court costs for each such instance for deposit in the state treasury to the credit of the Victims of Crime/Reparations Fund (Fund 402). However, as noted, the number of occasions in which such an outcome may occur in any given year is likely to be extremely small, which, if true, means that any resulting gain in Fund 402's annual revenues would be negligible.

Local Impact Statement

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

FY 2007

FY 2008

FUTURE YEARS

Counties

Revenues

Potential negligible gain in court costs and fines

Potential negligible gain in court costs and fines

Potential negligible gain in court costs and fines

Expenditures

Potential negligible increase in criminal justice system operating expenses

Potential negligible increase in criminal justice system operating expenses

Potential negligible increase in criminal justice system operating expenses

Municipalities

Revenues

Potential negligible loss in court costs and fines

Potential negligible loss in court costs and fines

Potential negligible loss in court costs and fines

Expenditures

Potential negligible decrease in criminal justice system operating expenses

Potential negligible decrease in criminal justice system operating expenses

Potential negligible decrease in criminal justice system operating expenses

Note: For most local governments, the fiscal year is the calendar year. The school district fiscal year is July 1 through June 30.

 

        Local criminal justice system revenues and expenditures. The bill's penalty enhancement carries the potential to elevate a criminal case that, based on current law, would likely be adjudicated as a misdemeanor under the subject matter jurisdiction of a municipal court or a county court to a felony under the subject matter jurisdiction of a court of common pleas. From the fiscal perspective of local governments, such an outcome could simultaneously: (1) increase county criminal justice system expenditures related to investigating, prosecuting, adjudicating, and defending (if the offender is indigent) certain offenders, while decreasing analogous municipal criminal justice system expenditures, and (2) generate additional court cost and fine revenues for counties, while causing a loss in analogous municipal court cost and fine revenues. Assuming that the falsification conduct that is the subject of the bill continues to be an extremely rare act, any related variations in annual county and municipal criminal justice system expenditures and revenues for any given local jurisdiction may be so insignificant as to be virtually undetectable.

 


 


 

 

Detailed Fiscal Analysis

 

For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, the bill most notably:

 

        Prohibits a person from making a false report that results in the implementation of the statewide emergency alert program or a local or regional emergency alert program.

        Revises the formula to be used by the Auditor of State in determining the amount of the adjustment to be made in the dollar figure specified by statute for a recovery by a wrongfully imprisoned individual.

 

False emergency alerts

 

Under the bill, a person is prohibited from knowingly making a false report that a child has been abducted that results in the implementation of a local, regional, or statewide emergency alert program, a violation of which is a felony of the fourth degree. Under current law, a person knowingly making such a false statement could be charged with the offense of falsification, a violation of which is generally a misdemeanor of the first degree.

 

According to personnel associated with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association, in the past year, there has only been one case of falsification of a police report that resulted in the implementation of the statewide emergency alert program (the "AMBER Alert Program").

 

Table 1 below reflects current law relative to the sentences and fines, unchanged by the bill, for a misdemeanor of the first degree and a felony of the fourth degree generally.

 

Table 1

Sentences and Fines for Certain Misdemeanors and Felonies Generally

Offense Level

Maximum Potential Fine

Potential Term of Incarceration

4th degree felony

$5,000

6-18 months definite prison term

1st degree misdemeanor

$1,000

Not more than 6 month jail term

 

Local criminal justice system revenues and expenditures

 

The bill's penalty enhancement carries the potential to elevate a criminal case that, based on current law, would most likely be adjudicated as a misdemeanor under the subject matter jurisdiction of a municipal court or a county court to a felony under the subject matter jurisdiction of a court of common pleas. Relative to a misdemeanor, a felony is generally a more expensive criminal matter to resolve.

 

From the fiscal perspective of local governments, such an outcome could simultaneously: (1) increase county criminal justice system expenditures related to investigating, prosecuting, adjudicating, and defending (if the offender is indigent) certain offenders, while decreasing analogous municipal criminal justice system expenditures, and (2) generate additional court cost and fine revenues for counties, while causing a loss in analogous municipal court cost and fine revenues. Assuming that the falsification conduct that is the subject of the bill continues to be an extremely rare act, any related variations in annual county and municipal criminal justice system expenditures and revenues for any given local jurisdiction may be so insignificant as to be virtually undetectable.

 

State fiscal effects

 

By enhancing the falsification offense under the above-noted circumstances from a misdemeanor to a felony, the bill creates the possibility that a person who could not otherwise have been sentenced to a prison term under current law can theoretically at least be sentenced to a prison term in the future. Assuming that such conduct continues to be extremely rare, then very few, if any, additional offenders might be sentenced to prison subsequent to the bill's enactment, and any related increase in the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's GRF-funded incarceration costs may be so insignificant as to be virtually undetectable. An additional offender or two occasionally sentenced to prison will typically have no noticeable fiscal effects on an institutional prison population that, as of November 2006, totaled just under 48,000 inmates.

 

In addition to any local fines and court costs, offenders can be ordered to pay locally collected state court costs. State court costs for a felony conviction total $45, with $30 of that amount being credited to the Victims of Crime/Reparations Fund (Fund 402) and the remainder, or $15, being credited to the GRF. State court costs for a misdemeanor conviction total $24, with $9 of that amount being credited to the Victims of Crime/Reparations Fund and the remainder, or $15, being credited to the GRF. Thus, the GRF gains $15 irrespective of whether an offender is convicted of or pleads guilty to a misdemeanor or a felony. In the case of a felony, the Victims of Crime/Reparations Fund could collect an additional $21 compared to its potential take from a misdemeanor.

 

Thus, as a result of a person being convicted of, or pleading guilty to, the penalty enhanced conduct, the state may gain an additional $21 in locally collected state court costs for each such instance for deposit in Fund 402. However, as noted, the number of occasions in which such an outcome may occur in any given year is likely to be extremely small, which, if true, means that any resulting gain in Fund 402's annual revenues would be negligible.

 

Wrongful imprisonment formula

 

The bill modifies the formula used by the Auditor of State in determining the amount of the adjustment to be made in the dollar figure specified by statute for a recovery by a wrongfully imprisoned individual. Under current law, the formula for determining such settlements is adjusted in January of each odd-numbered year by the Auditor of State. The adjustment is based on the yearly average of the previous two years of the consumer price index (CPI), as defined by the Revised Code. The bill will make it clear that the adjustment for the change in the CPI is to be factored in each year of the two-year adjustment period. Currently, the Auditor of State is only factoring the CPI adjustment on one year of the two-year adjustment period. By including the CPI adjustment on both years, individuals who may be eligible for a monetary award based on a claim of wrongful imprisonment (as determined by the Court of Claims) may receive a larger or smaller settlement award depending on whether the CPI adjustment increases or decreases over the two-year period. Given the number of factors that are considered when making such awards, one of which is formula-driven, it is difficult to predict with any certainty the potential impact on the state's GRF, which is the typical source of moneys for the payment of wrongful imprisonment settlements. Presumably, future payments would increase or decrease by some unknown degree.

 

 

 

LSC fiscal staff: Sara D. Anderson, Senior Budget Analyst

Jamie L. Doskocil, Senior Budget Analyst

 

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