Friday, April 14, 2017

Idaho governor vetoes civil forfeiture reform bill

Idaho libertarian conservatives furious about Otter's vetoes of licensing, civil forfeiture | Bloglander Daniel Walter, Pacific Northwest Inlander:

April 10, 2017 - "A very long time ago, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter ran as a libertarian conservative. But these days, a lot of libertarian-leaning conservatives view him with something closer to contempt....

"The most recent outrage: Otter's vetoes of a cosmetology licensure bill and a civil forfeiture bill. Both are key issues for libertarians, who argue that requiring licenses for jobs like 'barber' or 'makeup artist' end up punishing entrepreneurs and newcomers, in order to artificially shield established businesses from would-be competition.

"Meanwhile, when they look at civil forfeiture — where police can seize cash and other personal property without a conviction if they suspect it may be connected to certain crimes — they see serious due-process violations....

"Compared to some attempted civil forfeiture reforms, like those that require a guilty verdict before any property is taken, the Idaho bill was modest. It would require more evidence that property had been associated with a crime than simply proximity. And it would require law enforcement agencies to start tracking how much civil forfeiture money is being collected, and what it's being spent on....

"The bill was popular in the legislature. Nobody in the Idaho Senate voted against it, and only a handful of state representatives, including Coeur d'Alene Reps. Luke Malek and Paul Amador, voted against it in the House....

"'There have been no allegations that Idaho law enforcement officers are illegally or inappropriately seizing property from alleged drug traffickers,' [Otter] says.... The accuracy of that statement depends on the definition of 'inappropriate.'

"An investigation in the Twin Falls Times-News  revealed a case in 2010, when Twin Falls County Sheriff’s deputies raided the home of a couple they suspected were selling drugs. They netted a small baggie of marijuana and $12,010 in cash. The couple was never charged with anything, but the sheriff returned only $3,000.

"Then there's an anecdote shared by the DKT Liberty Project, which alleges that Idaho State Police pulled over a 35-year-old driver and searched his car when they were alerted by drug-sniffing dogs.

"'Although they didn’t find any drugs, they did find $4,200 in cash, which the man had set aside to pay for his divorce lawyer,' writes AC Bushnell, program director for the Liberty Project. The state patrol refused to repay the money."

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