A new law relaxing restrictions on political activity by federal civil-service employees also makes it easier for businesses to collect some bad debts. The old law prohibited attaching federal workers' wages for any purposes except nonpayment of child support or debts owed to the government. A provision of the Hatch Act amendments signed into law Oct. 6 allows creditors to seek a garnishment order against any federal employee--including members of Congress. Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho), a co-sponsor of the law, says restrictions on collections cost creditors $500 million a year.

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