UPDATE May 3, 2019: Referred to Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.
House Bill 1895 was introduced March 27, 2019 in a bipartisan fashion by a number of Republican and Democrat lawmakers, led by Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan. Similar legislation has been introduced in the past and has met favorable reaction, particularly in the House. The current bill was referred immediately to a number of committees, including the Judiciary.
The NMA issued a letter of support for HB 1895 on the day it was introduced to the House. It read in part:
“The reform of civil asset forfeiture law is a primary legislative goal of the NMA because motorists are a primary target of the United States Equitable Sharing Program through which the government seizes property from citizens. As The Washington Post reported in 2014 (“Stop and Seize,” Sallah, O’Harrow Jr., and Rich, 9/6/14), between 2001 and 2014 the government conducted nearly 62,000 seizures on the nation’s highways and elsewhere. The property taken was worth over $2.5 billion, and in many cases charges were never filed, let alone convictions obtained, from the motorists whose assets were seized.
“The FAIR Act seeks to hold the government to a higher standard, a constitutional standard, based not on the Equitable Sharing Program’s “preponderance of evidence” as justification for the seizures, but one of “clear and convincing evidence . . . that there was a substantial connection between the property and the offense; and the owner of any interest in the seized property used the property with intent to facilitate the offense; or knowingly consented or was willfully blind to the use of the property by another in connection with the offense.
“Rarely has an act been more appropriately named. The U.S. government must uphold and protect the due process rights of its citizens.”