AUSTIN — Last Friday, the Texas House of Representatives voted in favor of State Rep. Ryan Guillen's House Bill 27, which provides defendants who can't pay court fines up front with the opportunity to pay court costs in installments.

Current law permits, but does not require, courts to give similarly situated defendants this two option. House Bill 27 ensures that if someone can't pay up front, they would be able to pay costs in installments, which will allow counties and municipalities to collect more of the fines over time.

"In many instances defendants are unable to meet their court obligations regarding payment of fines and court costs," said Rep. Guillen (D-Duval).

"Payment plans encourage fulfilling these financial obligations by making it easier to pay. It protects the interests of low-income Texans while ensuring judges the discretion to deal with cases on a case-by-case basis and in a manner that doesn't violate the goal of equal protection."

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and Task Force on Indigent Defense testified in support of the legislation. The bill now awaits vote in the senate.

Texas State Representative Ryan Guillen is serving in his fifth term in the Texas House representing District 31, which includes the South Texas counties of Duval, Starr, Webb and Zapata.

A respected leader known for his fierce independence and relentless efforts to deliver results for South Texas families, he’s received numerous honors and has been named “Best Legislator," “Legislative Champion,” “Outstanding Legislator,” “South Texas Champion,” “Best of the House” and “Legislator of the Year” by organizations that advocate for issues ranging from education and healthcare to public safety and economic development. Since 2007, no other state representative has successfully authored and passed more legislation than Representative Guillen.