The Alabama Professional Bail Bonding Board
Board Meeting Minutes
November 6, 2020
With proper and required notice having been provided to the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office along with posting on the websites of the Alabama Secretary of State and the Alabama Professional Bail Bonding Board, a meeting of the Alabama Professional Bail Bonding Board was held on Friday, November 6, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to Section III Open Meeting Act of the Proclamation issued the 18th day of March, 2020, by Governor Kay Ivey, attendance was also perfected via ZOOM audio/video conferencing. The meeting was called to order at 10:08 a.m. by Chairman Chris McNeil, and minutes were recorded by Brenda Holden until 10:13 a.m.
A quorum having been established and maintained, the following Board members were present:
District I: Chris McNeil
District II: Gustavius Maxie – joined at 11:16 a.m.
District III: Barry Johnson – exited meeting at 11:19 a.m.
District IV: Alesia Kyser
District V: Victor Howard
District VI: Jimmie Lay
District VII: Edward Giles
Judge: The Honorable Spiro Cheriogotis
Circuit Clerk: The Honorable Carla Woodall – joined at 10:13 a.m.
Also present was Claire Austin, Acting Executive Director; Brenda Holden and Will Parker, Administrative Support; and Mary Goldwaite, Board Attorney, Alabama Attorney General’s Office.
Due to attendance via video conferencing, all voting actions of the Board were taken by a call of the roll.
The meeting was opened with prayer offered by Victor Howard.
A motion to approve the agenda was made by Spiro Cheriogotis and seconded by Barry Johnson. Motion passed unanimously.
The minutes of the April 3, 2020, were previously distributed and reviewed. A motion was made by Jimmie Lay to waive the reading of the minutes and seconded by Barry Johnson. Motion passed unanimously.
Spiro Cheriogotis made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted, which was seconded by Barry Johnson. Motion passed unanimously.
The Executive Director’s Report was submitted by Claire Austin related to applications and renewals processed, issuance of licenses, payments of Board expenses, and financial update. It was also reported that Proposition 25 in California failed regarding bonds being abolished. It was announced that Chris McNeil and Claire Austin are scheduled to attend the meeting of the Legislative Council Joint Committee on Legislative Rules Tuesday, November 10, 2020. It was also discussed that meeting dates of the Board for 2021 need to be set.
There were no licensees scheduled to appear before the Board.
Chris McNeil gave an update from the Continuing Education Sub-Committee regarding availability for renewal and new licensees to obtain continuing education credit hours in 4, 8, and 12 increments with information available on the Alabama Bail Bond Association’s website. There was also discussion of the development of the required license examination for potential new licensees wherein a sub-committee was formed to complete this task. Chairman McNeil appointed Barry Johnson, Chris McNeil, and Will Parker to the Examination Sub-Committee for the creation of the examination to encompass three versions with answer keys and 50 questions per version with Carla Woodall appointed as editor. Exam is to be administered in person with a pass/fail score wherein a score of 75% or better is considered passing.
Chairman McNeil gave a report of renewals for and the issue of how many licensees have not renewed with concerns that no renewal notification was issued by the Board and should consideration be given to waive late fees. It was proposed that in future years notice/reminders be issued and consider implementing a 7-day grace period before late fees are imposed.
Board Attorney Mary Goldwaite advised pursuant to Rule 153-4-.01 of the Alabama Professional Bail Bondsman Rules and Regulations there was specific language which bounds the Board to the assessment of late fees, the duty of licensees to renew, and the importance of consistency in the Board’s actions. Discussions were held related to issues with technology by licensees, possibility of credit given to licensees for late fees, and a survey of the sunset provision. There was also discussion of the delay of licensees receiving their paper renewals in that their current licenses expired October 31 and the need to maintain possession of a current license. It was suggested that an email be sent to Circuit Clerks, Presiding Judges, and Sheriff’s notifying them of the delay and that bondsmen could be asked for the confirmation page of their renewal submission that was sent electronically for proof of license. For 2021, continuing education PIN numbers can be pre-entered upon completion of continuing education to alleviate potential delays in renewal of license that some have experienced.
A motion was made by Carla Woodall to table discussion regarding credit for late fees to licensees so that the Board Attorney could research and consult with the Examiners of Public Accounts. Motion seconded by Spiro Cheriogotis. Motion passed unanimously.
A discussion was held regarding entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with ALEA for background checks to be emailed directly to the Board.
A discussion was held of the potential need for single licensees to be licensed as both a bondsman and recovery agent and that this can be issued by the Board.
Chairman Chris McNeil set the next meeting of the Alabama Professional Bail Bonding Board for Friday, January 22, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. at 60 Commerce Street, Suite 1440, Montgomery, Alabama, or attendance via ZOOM video conferencing dependent upon the COVID-19 pandemic. Future dates for Board meetings, which are subject to change, are March 28, 2021; May 21, 2021; July 30, 2021; September 24, 2021; and December 3, 2021.
A discussion was held regarding four months of uncompensated work performed by Claire Austin from November 2019 to February 2020. A motion was made by Chris McNeil to increase the compensation of Claire Austin to 55 hours per month at the rate of $100 per hour ending May 31, 2021, wherein compensation would revert back to current rate. Motion seconded by Carla Woodall. Motion passed unanimously.
A discussion was held for the Executive Director to send notice to all licensees notifying them that their license is null and void if not renewed by midnight December 31, 2020.
Victor Howard informed the Board of activity and solicitation for donations from attorneys and others within Alabama by the National Public Bail Bond Fund Project which supports all bail be posted for free.
There being no further business, a motion to adjourn was made by Spiro Cheriogotis and seconded by Carla Woodall. Motion passed unanimously. Meeting adjourned at 11:46 a.m.
Chris McNeil Carla H. Woodall