A bill that would require that a person be convicted before police can seize his or her property won’t be moving forward this legislative session.
Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, offered one of several bills to reform the state’s civil asset forfeiture law. Under current law, police can seize a person’s money or property if they suspect it is involved in a crime. Finney’s bill, HB 2108, would have required a conviction before a person could lose their property.
“I thought it was pretty simple,” Finney said.
Rep. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, has decided to put the matter before the state’s Judicial Council – a panel of judges and attorneys that advises the Legislature on legal matters – for further review instead of going forward with the legislation this session.
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Finch said he thinks the council will be able to study the issue more thoroughly than the committee, which will result in a better bill.
“With everyone from law enforcement to civil liberties folks around the table having that conversation, that can only give us a better product or better recommendation on how to proceed,” Finch said.
Finch said it’s unlikely that the council will be able to come up with a recommendation before the end of the session. He also noted that he has requested that Finney be allowed to participate as the council works on the issue.
Finney said she would have preferred that the House committee proceed with the bill this year but is hopeful that the council will produce a reform bill that can pass next session.
“I’ve heard that when a bill goes through there they usually come out with something and it has a high rate of passing in the House, so I guess it’s kind of a ‘wait and see’ what’s going to happen,” Finney said.