Tennessee Bills Would Effectively End Federal Asset Forfeiture Program in the State (HB 340 & SB 362)

Bills introduced in the Tennessee legislature would create a process to determine whether there is probable cause before proceeding with asset forfeiture and close a loophole allowing state and local police to circumvent stringent state asset forfeiture laws by passing cases off to the feds.

Rep. Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville) introduced House Bill 340 (HB340) on Jan. 30. Rep. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) introduced a companion in the Senate (SB362) on the same day. The legislation would require the district attorney general to review the underlying circumstances of a seizure to determine if probable cause exists to justify forfeiture. If probable cause cannot be established, the district attorney would be required to file a motion to dismiss the application for forfeiture warrant.

Passage of HB340/SB362 would build on reforms signed into law last year by Gov. Bill Haslam.