NO. 61. AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AGENCY ACCEPTANCE OF CREDIT AND DEBIT CARD PAYMENTS.

(H.162)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 32 V.S.A. 583 is amended to read:

583. CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS

(a) A statewide officer or secretary of a state agency, commissioner of a state department, or the court administrator may accept payment of taxes, registration fees, license fees, penalties, fines, interest, charges, surcharges, or any other fees or amounts due the state by means of credit cards, debit cards, charge cards, prepaid cards, stored value cards, and direct bank account withdrawals or transfers.

(b) The court administrator may not accept credit cards, debit cards, charge cards, prepaid cards, stored value cards, and direct bank account withdrawals or transfers for payments of fines, penalties or surcharges assessed by a circuit of the district court. However, the court administrator may accept credit cards, debit cards, charge cards, prepaid cards, stored value cards, and direct bank account withdrawals or transfers for any payments to the Chittenden, Essex, and Washington circuits of the district court.

(c) The state treasurer shall negotiate and contract with banks and bank credit card companies or others to provide as a method of payment to state agencies, departments, or the judiciary the use of credit card or debit card accounts or direct bank account withdrawals or transfers, and may agree to pay such bank or other company a fee or percentage of the amount collected and remitted to the state. Notwithstanding section 502 of this title, an agency, a department, or the judiciary may charge against such collections the percentage or fee imposed.

(d) The state treasurer shall assist each statewide officer, secretary, commissioner, and court administrator who elects to accept payments, as authorized by this section, with establishing procedures for accepting those payments.

(e) A statewide officer or secretary of a state agency that, a commissioner of a state department, or the court administrator who has authority to accept payment of fees, penalties, fines, charges, surcharges, or any other amounts due the state by a credit card, debit card, charge card, prepaid card, or stored value card shall not charge or collect any additional amounts for using such card to make the payment unless such charge is specifically authorized by statute the agency develops a policy regarding additional charges. Each policy and recommended charge shall be approved by the secretary of administration prior to applying the charge. Any such charge shall approximate the cost of providing the service.

(f) By January 15 of each year, the treasurer, with the assistance of the court administrator, shall file a report with the general assembly and the joint fiscal committee which:

(1) details all bank charges, service fees, and fees charged to consumers related to credit card transactions according to credit card usage by agency, department, or the judiciary;

(2) evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of credit card usage by each agency, department, or court; and

(3) makes recommendations for future usage of credit cards by the judiciary.

Sec. 2. 18 V.S.A. 503(b) is amended to read:

503. USE OF LABORATORY BY PEOPLE

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(b) Reasonable fees shall be charged to cover the cost of services provided if the service is not requested under the authority of the commissioner of health. The department may accept credit card or debit card payment for these services subject to the requirements of section 583 of Title 32.

Sec. 3. 32 V.S.A. 3110 is amended to read:

3110. PAYMENTS BY CREDIT CARD

The commissioner may accept payment of taxes, license fees, penalties, interest, fees, or other charges by means of bank credit cards and may charge the taxpayer a service fee an additional amount which approximates the cost of providing the service and which is approved by the secretary of administration for each payment made by credit card. The commissioner may contract with bank credit card companies or others to provide as a method of payment the use of bank credit card accounts, and may agree to pay such bank or other company a percentage of the amount collected and remitted to the commissioner. Notwithstanding 32 V.S.A. 502, the commissioner may charge against such collections an agreed-upon a percentage of collections and any service fee imposed.

Sec. 4. REPEAL

4 V.S.A. 741(a) (payments by credit card to clerks of courts), 10 V.S.A.  4255(h) (payments by credit card to department of fish and wildlife), and 23 V.S.A. 5 (payments by credit card to department of motor vehicles) are repealed.

Sec. 5. SUNSET

32 V.S.A. 583(f)(2) and (3) (state treasurer reporting requirements) shall expire on July 1, 2005.

Approved: June 11, 2003