Harris County 10% minimum bail vote fails

A resolution that would have forced Harris County bail bondsmen to charge clients a fee of at least 10% failed to pass a vote this week by the Bail Bond Board.

Only four of 11 board members supported the measure, two opposed, and two abstained. Three others skipped the vote.

Bail Bond

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Harris County Treasurer Dylan Osborne and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez voted in favor of the minimum charge, as did Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and District Clerk Marilyn Burgess

Mario Garza, president of the Harris County Professional Bonding Association, voted no along with attorney Troy McKinney.

Judge Angela Rodriguez, the board’s interim chair, and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg abstained.

Harris County District Court Judge Amy Martin, Criminal Court Judge Shannon Baldwin, and Municipal Court Judge J. Elaine Marshall left the meeting after hearing public comments and did not return to vote.

Marshall said later she had to leave due to a family emergency and would have voted yes.

Those who abstained and missed the vote drew criticism from the measure’s supporters. They say the bail bond business undermines judges who set high bails for violent offenders by accepting lower fees. Bondsmen say the practice levels the playing field for the poor.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said previously that he would pursue a local ordinance for a 10 percent minimum if the resolution failed

Supporters of the minimum say they may reintroduce a form of the measure at the next Bail Bond Board meeting in April.

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