Press Conference

Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue favored regulations on bounty hunters in a bill now headed to the desk of Idaho Gov. Brad Little.

BOISE — A bill to put some regulations on bail enforcement agents in Idaho is headed to the governor’s desk.

The House voted 63-2 Monday to pass Senate Bill 1110, which sets some requirements for bounty hunters, such as that they must be over 18, a citizen or legal resident of the United States, not be a fugitive from justice and, if carrying a weapon, be allowed to do so under state and federal law. It also requires bounty hunters to wear an identifying badge and to notify the county sheriff before making a “planned apprehension” such as raiding someone’s home.

“This bill still allows the practice of bounty hunting but puts some sideboards around it,” said sponsor Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee.

Lawmakers have been discussing regulating the bail enforcement industry for the past few years, partly in response to a few high-profile incidents involving bounty hunters, including a couple in Canyon County that ended in gunfire and one in Ammon in 2015 where a bounty hunter shot and killed a fugitive after the man pulled a gun on the bounty hunter.

Bail enforcement agents, or bounty hunters, apprehend people who have been released on bond after being arrested and flee. This year’s bill represents negotiations between industry and law enforcement groups, the Idaho Freedom Foundation and other stakeholders such as the Department of Insurance, Idaho Sheriffs Association lobbyist Michael Kane told the committee.

“This is truly a collegial bill,” he said. “We strive for perfection, and I think we’ve finally reached that point.”

Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue testified in favor of the bill, telling the committee about a couple of recent incidents in his county involving bounty hunters that ended in gunfire, including one where the bounty hunters faced criminal charges after firing on a fleeing car being driven by the suspect’s sister, who Donahue said was unaware of her brother’s criminal activity.

The bill sets some requirements for bounty hunters, such as they must be over 18, a citizen or legal resident of the United States, not be a fugitive from justice and, if carrying a weapon, allowed to do so under state and federal law. It also requires bounty hunters to wear an identifying badge and to notify the county sheriff before making a “planned apprehension” such as raiding someone’s home.

Kane said several times that, while most bounty hunters in Idaho are responsible, the regulations also would apply to out-of-state bounty hunters coming into Idaho to find someone.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.