Apparently we elect Republicans to Annapolis so they can vote against the due process rights of property owners. Per Maryland Reporter, a modest bill (HB 360) to toughen the requirements for police seizure and forfeiture of property — long overdue, as those who follow the forfeiture scandals know — passed 81-54 last week, but nearly every Republican voted against it, including the delegates from my own District 4 (Afzali, Vogt, Ciliberti). At least Dels. Karen Lewis Young and Carol Krimm (D-Frederick) were on the right side, for which I thank them.
The case for forfeiture reform really isn’t that obscure. Libertarians may have gotten to it first, but if you read the conservative press you almost certainly have heard about the problems with forfeiture too. Of several mentions on this blog, the most recent linked to resources on forfeiture and its abuse at Cato and at my legal blog Overlawyered.
By my rough check (I couldn’t find a 100% up-to-date list) the two Republicans who crossed over to vote for the bill were Dels. Glen Glass (Harford, Cecil Counties) and Robin Grammer (Baltimore County), so thanks to them too. But I fear we have a GOP caucus much of which, when an issue has a “law enforcement” label, just asks the police and prosecutor community for a thumbs up or down.
P.S. The Capital Gazette has the right idea (via Paul Ellington). More: Jason Boisvert breaks out the terms of HB 360 and writes, “This bill is fairly straight-forward and doesn’t have any poison pills that I could find. It’s an honest, serious attempt to reform a system that is widely abused and corrupts police forces. It’s essentially the bill I would have written.” More: In part II, Boisvert refutes a few assertions circulated by opponents of the bill, such as that it will prevent small drug busts, end cooperation with the feds, or force investigators to reveal their case too early.