Friday, August 26, 2016

How David Hadley (R-Torrance) Helped Pass Civil Asset Forfeitfure Reform

Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Torrance --YES!) has disappointed me at times.

But his latest legislative victory deserves promotion.

Last year, he worked with State Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) to shepherd SB 443 through the state legislature.

The state senate near-unanimously supported the legislation.

In the state assembly, it failed.

Only four Republicans voted for it, but the moderate, pro-business Democrats (?) voted against.

Hadley was really crushed about it at the end of the 2015 legislative session.

When I looked over possible reasons why the  large majority of California Republican Assemblymembers rejected the measure, I noticed that many of them run on a pro law enforcement platform.

Many of them covet endorsements from law enforcement agencies too.

Whether anyone likes to admit it or not, police have relied on civil asset forfeiture, in many cases for dubious reasons.

Originally, the idea was to shut down the funding for drug cartels, when proving actual crime proved elusive.

Now, police departments admit openly that they rely on the unconstitutional practice to pad their resource and expense accounts.

As Assemblyman Hadley had announced during a 2015 press conference: "I value our law enforcement too much for them to have to work on commission."


The bill stalled but thankfully did not die.

Fast-forward to today.

SB 443 finally passed out of the state assembly with widespread bipartisan support.

What made it work this time?

Hadley was leading the charge, stressing the limited government and pro-constitutional aspects of the bill. Senator Holly Mitchell actively promotes a "Black Lives Matter" and anti-law enforcement message. That kind of negativity would not encourage Republicans to support SB 443.

A libertarian lean was needed, and Hadley provided for it.

As he had shared with me:

"It is the right thing to do."

The bill that passed was s a modified reform from 2015. With the new bill--soon to become law--the state cannot seize assets up to $40,000 without proving a crime.

Reason Magazine delineated the other added amendments and revisions:

The conviction requirement remains in this version of the bill, but a section has been added to allow police to seek seizure without a conviction if the defendant doesn't show up for court, flees to evade prosecution, or is deceased.

Some conservatives bellyached, claiming that more wealthy property owners would still get shafted.

I disagree. This reform is monumental.

A freshman Republican Assemblyman smoothed over resistance from colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass a compromise which expands individual liberty while limiting the power of the state. He played offense to get this monumental reform through the state legislature, in one of the bluest states in the union.

Hadley reported on the compromise:

I am proud to be the principal co-author of a significant bipartisan reform bill, SB 443, which passed the Assembly 69-7 on Monday. Los Angeles Senator Holly Mitchell - from across the aisle - is the bill's lead author.

SB 443 reforms civil asset forfeiture, by which law enforcement can take a suspect's cash and property without obtaining a conviction or even charging the suspect with a crime.

SB 443 is a well-structured compromise, the product of several months of serious work. It improves Constitutional protections for Americans while enabling law enforcement to retain an important tool as they combat drug trafficking and organized crime.

Back to the Senate for a concurring vote, and on to Governor Brown's desk! SB 443 is a good example of how bipartisanship and hard work have yielded a great result!

Organized crime will still face stiff challenges to their operations, but innocent individual property owners will no longer have to face legalized theft from rapacious police departments.

Despite its disturbing left-leaning agenda in the page, the American Civil Liberties Union is embracing more libertarian views, which appeal to conservatives.

SACRAMENTO—A California bill to limit civil asset forfeiture abuses was approved today by the State Assembly on a 66 to 8 vote. The bill will now return to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

Senate Bill 443, co-authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember David Hadley (R-Manhattan Beach), provides individuals with stronger property rights protections by requiring a conviction in most state civil asset forfeiture cases. The bill also addresses a problematic financial incentive that has driven some California law enforcement agencies to bypass state law in favor of federal law, opening the door to abuses.

“Today’s vote is a tremendous victory for fairness and justice,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, criminal justice and drug policy director for the ACLU of California. “For years, the scales of justice were tipped in favor of profits and against the fundamental rights of countless Californians who were unfairly deprived of their life savings and property through civil forfeiture laws. Today, the Legislature got it right.”

People before profits--where have I heard this statement before?

The progressive left loves to pretend that they care about people more than money. In California, however, the Democratic Dominance is riddled with cronyism and corruption, where local and statewide lawmakers pretend to do what is best for others, but really want to enrich themselves.

This reform ends one destructive practice.

Let's hope that more states and lawmakers embrace this thoughtful process for future reforms.

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