Yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing stretched for more than four hours, from 1:30 in the afternoon until well after 5. When it was done, the panel had approved bipartisan legislation to limit civil asset forfeiture in Idaho, and to charge heroin pushers with murder if their customers die. Times-News reporter Nathan Brown stuck it out for the full hearing; you can read his report here on the heroin bill, and here on asset forfeiture.
The asset forfeiture reform bill, HB 202, is sponsored by Reps. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, and Steve Harris, R-Meridian. Brown reports that it would require law enforcement to demonstrate a connection between drugs and property seized other than that they happen to be near each other. Among other changes to the law, it says mere possession of cash is not grounds for a seizure, absent other evidence of illegality.
The heroin bill, HB 178, also is a bipartisan measure, sponsored by Reps. John Gannon, D-Boise, and James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian. “The drug pushers are selling death and I think we should prosecute accordingly," Holtzclaw told the committee.
Both bills drew both opposition and support, and passed only after divided votes to kill them fell short; both now will advance to the full House.