Gov. Butch Otter has signed into law a bipartisan civil forfeiture reform bill – though he vetoed a similar measure last year. This year’s bill, HB 447, passed both the House and Senate unanimously. The bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Reps. and Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, and Steven Harris, R-Meridian; co-sponsors are Sens. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, and Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise.
The measure would forbid police officers from seizing cash or property simply because it was in close proximity to an illegal substance. It would also ban seizing vehicles unless they are in connection with trafficking offenses, while creating reporting requirements for forfeited property, the AP reports. Idaho’s current civil asset forfeiture law allows police to seize someone’s cash or cars if they believe it’s tied to a crime as a way to fight large-scale crime operations. A person doesn't need to be charged with a crime in order to have property seized.
The reforms take effect July 1.