Dear Missouri NMA Member,
Two key issues that the NMA is focusing on at the federal level are 1) prohibiting federal funding of state traffic enforcement campaigns based on ticket quotas, and 2) urgently needed reform of civil asset forfeiture (CAF) laws. Regarding the latter, motorists have become prime targets of property seizures by state and federal enforcement agencies even when, in many instances, the property owner has not been convicted or even charged with a violation or crime. We sent this alert to members last year detailing how widespread CAF abuse has become and why federal and state laws must be amended to protect the constitutional rights of citizens.
Missouri Representative Shamed Dogan introduced House Bill 444 in January, a bill that would prohibit law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities from referring, transferring, or otherwise relinquishing possession of seized property to a federal agency for the purpose of the property’s forfeiture under federal law.
HCS recommended “Do Pass” for the bill in a 10 to 0 vote on February 21 at which time HB 444 was referred to the House Rules – Administrative Oversight Committee. The bill has since been stuck in limbo in that committee. Rather than let it die due to inaction when the current legislative session ends on May 13, we need NMA Missouri members to contact their state representatives and particularly members of the Rules – Administrative Oversight Committee urging them to report HB 444 out as “do pass” so that the full House can vote on it. We’ve been told that the biggest opponent to the bill is the chair of the Administrative Oversight Committee, Rep. Holly Rehder.
It is wrong for property to be seized when neither the owner nor the property is tied to criminal activity. HB 444 closes a loophole to make sure local agencies are not intentionally seizing property and transferring it to a federal agency to receive payment or some sort of benefit. This bill reestablishes a person’s right to retain their property. It has bipartisan support and has received supportive testimony from Americans for Prosperity, Institute for Justice, Empower Missouri, and American Civil Liberties Union.
For more information about how you can help, please contact Ryan Jones with Americans for Prosperity at Rjones@afphq.org or 314-707-8068.