UPDATE May 30, 2019: 2019 Legislative Session adjourned without taking action on this bill.
House Bill 444 was introduced on January 9, 2019 by Rep. Shamed Dogan. HCS voted “Do Pass” by a 10 – 0 count and the bill was then referred to the House Rules – Administrative Oversight Committee on February 21. HB 444 has remained in that committee with no action taken.
The bill 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. The NMA supports HB 444. 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.
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 Missouri 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.