Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) yesterday signed into law House Bill 347, which would require law enforcement agencies to seek a criminal conviction before a person’s property is forfeited over to the government. The legislature had passed the measure, with little opposition, on December 9.
The following statement from Jesse Hathaway, a research fellow and budget/tax expert at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For further comments from him, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Deputy Director of Communications Keely Drukala at [email protected] and 312/377-4000
“With Gov. John Kasich’s (R) signing of House Bill 347, Ohio joins a growing number of states – including California, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming – in protecting taxpayers’ due-process and property rights.
“Reducing perverse economic incentives, the new law prohibits local governments from using the U.S. Department of Justice’s ‘equitable sharing’ program as a loophole to bypass constitutional protections on property rights in most cases, while still allowing government law enforcement agents to perform their duties and protect people.
“Government law enforcement should not be financially motivated, but motivated by a desire to protect and serve taxpayers. Civil asset forfeiture creates an economic incentive to engage in the forfeiture process, perverting the law. This measure reduces that incentive to do wrong and will help protect against the possibility of abuse.
“This is a step towards removing the profitability of violating an individual’s inherent property rights, and lawmakers in other states should look to Ohio for ideas on how to solve the civil asset forfeiture problem in their communities.”
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