Bounce a check, pay $5 more.

The House voted 51-17 on Wednesday to increase the bounced-check charge from $15 to $20. The measure now goes to the Senate."This is a consumer-protection act because 99 percent of the people don't bounce checks and all of us are paying for those who do through higher grocery and retail prices," said sponsoring Rep. Kurt Oscarson, D-Sandy.

It's been several years since lawmakers raised the bad-check charge, which can be very expensive if one makes a dumb mistake.

"I left work one day with my (paycheck) in my pocket and forgot to deposit it. I mailed my (monthly) bills the night before. They all bounced, and I had more than $250 in bounced-check charges," said House Minority Whip Kelly Atkinson, D-West Jordan. "I don't see how it is consumer protection to increase that charge. It hurts" to pay those bounced-check charges.

But grocery store owners tell Oscarson it costs them $23.93 to collect on each bounced check. So at $15 they lose money. "Some retail store owners say it costs them closer to $25 to $27 to collect."

Each large grocery store in the state loses an average of $30,000 a year in checks it can't collect on. "We pay for that through higher grocery prices," Oscarson said.

"There are ways around this. First, balance your checkbook and don't write bad checks. Or you can get a check protection card through your bank. But all of us shouldn't be paying for the habitual bad-check passers. And we believe by raising the penalty we can drop the 1 percent of bad checks to only half a percent."