A third-party debt collection agency has been hired by Iowa's judicial branch to collect court fines and fees that have gone unpaid for more than one year. The firm, Kansas City-based Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson, will initially attempt to collect from residents in 19 counties, although state court administrator David Boyd expects that number to increase over time. "In recent years, as state revenues have decreased, the legislature has become even more interested in collecting unpaid fines and fees," Boyd told the news source. "To this end, the legislature has approved new collection procedures and reinforced several existing procedures to improve collection of unpaid fines and court fees." Furthermore, the state is expanding the types of debt that can be collected during a resident's vehicle registration renewal process. Prior to July 1, this was limited to unpaid court debt from criminal or traffic cases. However, court fees from civil cases such as divorces, contract disputes and small claims cases are now also included. The Gazette reported that earlier this year, the state's Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase fines and court fees for criminal offenses as part of a two-year effort to fund the state's court system and public safety programs.