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Debt-collector rule will be amended

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An Office of State Debt Collection rule that caused an outcry last month from the private sector will be amended.

Raylene Ireland, chairman of the State Debt Collection Board, told the Administrative Rules Review Committee on Monday that an amendment to the rule will be filed to ensure that the rule does not grant the agency expanded powers.

Ireland said the inclusion of any part of the rule that did so "was inadvertent and not intended" and that the board had met recently to formulate the amendment approach.

Representatives of private-sector debt-collection companies contended that the definition of a "state agency" in the rule conflicted with the state code, although one state official said the definition would have extended to private-sector vendors that contract with the state.

One private-sector representative said the rule would effectively cause the state to compete with private agencies active in debt collection.

Candice Daley of the Utah Association of Collectors said last month that private collection agencies would not be allowed the same powers as provided in the rule and that the office was going beyond its statutory authority.

On Monday, however, Daley said she appreciated the board's approach to amend the rule.

Committee co-chairman Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said he was "convinced" that expanding the agency's powers through the rule was unintentional

He said the situation was a "great example" of how the governmental system corrects inadvertent consequences. Making a statute can get a lot of publicity, "but when agencies write rules, it's not as visible a process," Stephenson said.

E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com