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Civil Asset Forfeiture Package Sent To Governor

Civil Asset Forfeiture Package Sent To Governor

The three-bill civil asset forfeiture package -- SB 0002, HB 4001, and HB 4002 -- was sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her presumed signature Thursday.

 

The bills, championed by Sen. Pete Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.) requires a person to be convicted or plead guilty to a crime before law enforcement could take their personal property through civil asset forfeiture.

Passage of the bills was somewhat anti-climactic, considering that solid support had previously been demonstrated for similar bills based on the same core concept. However, for various reasons, obstacles had consistently arisen that prevented enactment. This time around that seems less likely to occur.

In recent days the only questions concerning the legislation had been how it would be divided up. That was solved last week with some readjusting, with the final package being: Lucido's SB 0002, HB 4001, sponsored by Rep. Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) and HB 4002, sponsored by Rep. Dave LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids).

SB 0002 was passed unanimously on the Senate floor Thursday, HB 4001 and HB 4002 passed 37-1, with Sen. Kim LaSata (R- St. Joseph) casting the 'no' vote.

"Lawmakers' most important job is protecting Michigan citizens' Constitutional rights," said Michigan Freedom Fund Executive Director Tony Daunt. "The passage today of bipartisan civil asset forfeiture reform is an important and needed change that puts the rights of residents above the wants of local governments. The Michigan Freedom Fund is proud that Republicans and Democrats worked together to accomplish an important goal that puts their constituents first."

Reporters asked Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) why there has been so much resistance to civil asset forfeiture reform from elements of the law enforcement community.

"Unfortunately, we've allowed for law enforcement budgets to be so contingent on taking people's property that it will affect the way they'll operate," Ananich said. "We need to have sustainable models for funding our local governments and that's why I've said we need to take a look at Proposal A.

"But to me, taking someone's property before they've been convicted of a crime; that's more important to rectify than a local budget," he concluded.

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