Date Requested: February 10, 2015
Time Requested: 04:58 PM
Agency: Public Defender Services
CBD Number: Version: Bill Number: Resolution Number:
1895 Introduced SB131
CBD Subject: Courts


FUND(S):

0226

Sources of Revenue:

General Fund

Legislation creates:

Neither Program nor Fund



Fiscal Note Summary


Effect this measure will have on costs and revenues of state government.


     Under the provisions of Section 13a of Article 21 of Chapter 29 of the West Virginia Code, panel attorneys who are appointed to represent eligible clients in “eligible proceedings” are compensated at the rate of forty-five (45) dollars an hour for “work performed out of court” and at the rate of sixty-five (65) dollars an hour for “work performed in court.”
    
     Under the provisions of Section 2 of Article 21 of Chapter 29 of the West Virginia Code, “eligible proceedings” include “child abuse and neglect proceedings which may result in a termination of parental rights.” Under the provisions of Section 2 of Article 6 of Chapter 49 of the West Virginia Code, seperate counsel is to be appointed for each of the father, the mother, and the children.
    
     Senate Bill No. 131 proposes an increase of thirty (30) dollars in the hourly rate of compensation for panel attorneys who are appointed to represent parties in child abuse and neglect ("CAN") proceedings. Specifically, the rate of compensation for “work performed out of court” in CAN proceedings would be raised from forty-five (45) dollars to seventy-five (75) dollars an hour and the rate of compensation for “work performed in court” in CAN proceedings would be raised from sixty-five (65) dollars to ninety-five (95) dollars an hour.
    
     The legislation also increases the maximum level of compensation for a CAN proceeding from three thousand (3,000) dollars to five thousand (5,000) dollars.



Fiscal Note Detail


Effect of Proposal Fiscal Year
2015
Increase/Decrease
(use"-")
2016
Increase/Decrease
(use"-")
Fiscal Year
(Upon Full
Implementation)
1. Estmated Total Cost 0 5,070,024 5,070,024
Personal Services 0 0 0
Current Expenses 0 5,070,024 5,070,024
Repairs and Alterations 0 0 0
Assets 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0
2. Estimated Total Revenues 0 0 0


Explanation of above estimates (including long-range effect):


     The assumption is made that any increase in the rates of compensation would not be made effective until the commencement of FY2016.
    
     In the Fiscal Year commencing on July 1, 2013, and ending on June 30, 2014 (“FY2014”), the total amount paid to panel attorneys as fees for services was $23,016,716.42 for 479,583.9 hours of service. See Public Defender Services Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2013 – 2014, p. 46. Child abuse and neglect (“CAN”) proceedings accounted for 35% of these totals. See Public Defender Services Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2013 – 2014, pp. 54 & 60. Specifically, the fees paid for the services of panel attorneys in CAN proceedings were, during FY2014, $8,170,924.97 for 169,000.82 hours of service. Id.
    
     Based upon the FY2014 data, the thirty (30) dollars increase in the rates of compensation for legal services in CAN proceedings would result in a total increase in the fees that would be paid to panel attorneys in the amount of $5,070,024.60. This represents the product of $30 (the across the board increase) times 169,000.82 (the number of hours reported as services in CAN proceedings). See Public Defender Services Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2013 – 2014, p. 54. As a result of this increase, the overall payment to panel attorneys who are appointed to cases in FY2016 would be projected to be twenty-eight (28) to thirty (30) million dollars.
    
     The proposed legislation also increases the maximum level of compensation for a CAN proceeding from three thousand (3,000) dollars to five thousand (5,000) dollars. Because fees that exceed the maximum level can be paid if the approving court finds good cause, which is routinely done, this increase should have no impact on the calculations in this fiscal note as it will not result in the nonpayment of claims.
    



Memorandum


     The legislation also proposes that the attorneys be compensated for attending “multidisciplinary training.” The agency presumes that this training is required by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia under the provisions of Section 2 of Article 6 of Chapter 49 of the West Virginia Code. The time spent in such training would not be allocable to a case for which a voucher would be submitted to the agency for payment. Accordingly, the agency presumes that the fees related to such training would be submitted to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia for payment.
    



    Person submitting Fiscal Note: Dana F. Eddy
    Email Address: Dana.F.Eddy@wv.gov