Sunday, July 15, 2018

Bill that requires arrest before police can seize assets goes to Scott

TALLAHASSEE — Florida is one step closer to overhauling laws that allow law enforcement agencies to take property, cars and cash from suspected criminals after lawmakers sent Gov. Rick Scott a bill Monday that would give more protection to citizens targeted by police.

The House unanimously passed the bill that would require an arrest before police can seize assets. It's designed to prevent abuses under the current law, which allows law enforcement agencies to take money and property based on the mere suspicion of illegal activity.

"What we've shown is law enforcement groups can work with the property rights groups and the civil libertarians and we can find a compromise that works with everyone," said Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg.

Law enforcement groups were fighting the bill until Brandes removed language that would have also required a conviction for agencies to keep seized cash and property. A diverse coalition of groups has been fighting for changes to forfeiture laws, ranging from tea party supporters to the American Civil Liberties Union. Brandes' compromise was supported by groups representing police chiefs and sheriffs.

The bill (SB 1044) also requires law enforcement agencies to file reports each year documenting asset seizures and what they do with money and property taken. There are other protections for citizens, such as requiring law enforcement agencies to pay $1,000 in court fees upon seizing property and put up a $1,500 bond that would go to the property owner if a court decides assets were improperly seized.

"This is a really substantial improvement," said ACLU of Florida director of public policy Michelle Richardson.

She said the reporting requirement will go a long way to determine whether the forfeiture laws continue to be abused. And she said Florida's approach could find support in states where bills requiring a conviction to seize property have failed.

"It will be the first time we get a real thorough look at exactly how this is working," she said.

The Institute for Justice has also been pushing nationally for changes to civil asset forfeiture laws. It praised Brandes' bill.

"Civil forfeiture is one of the most serious assaults on property rights in America and SB 1044 increases protections for innocent property owners in the Sunshine State. The transparency requirements will provide valuable information which should lead to more needed reform in the future," said Justin Pearson, an attorney with the Institute for Justice's Florida office.

The law will take effect July 1 if Scott signs the bill.

Comments
Sacha Baron Cohen still knows how to punk America, but his new show erodes what little trust we have left

Sacha Baron Cohen still knows how to punk America, but his new show erodes what little trust we have left

Sacha Baron Cohen’s return to incognito trickery is, in current conditions, a little like pouring rubbing alcohol into the nation’s open wounds.Employing the same ingenious commitment and subterfuge that made him famous in the guise of Ali G., Borat ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Trump tweets, hits links before high-stakes Putin meeting

Trump tweets, hits links before high-stakes Putin meeting

TURNBERRY, Scotland — Two days before a high-stakes summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump played golf and tweeted Saturday from one of his namesake resorts, blaming his predecessor for Russian election meddling and lash...
Published: 07/14/18
Scott taps former Pinellas GOP chair to fill commission vacancy left by late John Morroni

Scott taps former Pinellas GOP chair to fill commission vacancy left by late John Morroni

Gov. Rick Scott appointed real estate investor and former Redington Shores Mayor Jay Beyrouti to the Pinellas County Commission on Friday, filling the vacancy created when Commissioner John Morroni died of cancer in May.In a short news release, the G...
Published: 07/13/18
His Ph.D is from a diploma mill. But candidate stands by his work

His Ph.D is from a diploma mill. But candidate stands by his work

The three letters were displayed prominently on George Buck’s campaign website, right after his name: Ph.D. Check his campaign finance records and those, too, display his doctorate. There’s no question that Buck, a Republican primary ca...
Published: 07/13/18
March column: Transit petition has

March column: Transit petition has "steep hill"

Leaders of an effort to put a Hillsborough County transportation sales tax referendum on the November ballot say they’re confident they’ll gather enough petition signatures in time.But they may have to work fast. As of Thursday, All for Transportatio...
Published: 07/13/18

Fiat workers call for strike after owner buys Cristiano Ronaldo

Fiat factory workers in Italy can think of a few things they’d rather see their owner spend $130 million on than Cristiano Ronaldo.A Fiat Chrysler Automobiles union in the south of the country called for a strike to protest the purchase of star playe...
Published: 07/12/18
Carlton: Forget politics — we’ve got a mayor-governor bromance going here!

Carlton: Forget politics — we’ve got a mayor-governor bromance going here!

There’s a difference between Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.And no, I don’t mean the fact that Buckhorn is a Democrat who stuffed envelopes in the fourth grade for Robert Kennedy and later stumped for both Bill and Hillary. And ...
Published: 07/10/18
Updated: 07/11/18
Hawkes, Compton lean on public service roles in Pasco’s only contested judicial race

Hawkes, Compton lean on public service roles in Pasco’s only contested judicial race

Of the five Pasco County judgeships up for election this year, voters will decide only one race: a lone contested showdown between the Sheriff’s Office’s top civilian employee, Jeremiah Hawkes, and former Zephyrhills city councilman Kent Compton.Hawk...
Published: 07/10/18
Trump picks Kavanaugh for court, setting up fight with Dems

Trump picks Kavanaugh for court, setting up fight with Dems

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump chose Brett Kavanaugh, a politically connected conservative judge, for the Supreme Court Monday, setting up a ferocious confirmation battle with Democrats as he seeks to shift the nation’s highest court further to ...
Published: 07/09/18
‘Viciousness’: Trump aides endure public fury toward president’s policies

‘Viciousness’: Trump aides endure public fury toward president’s policies

Just after arriving in Washington to work for President Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway found herself in a downtown supermarket, where a man rushing by with his shopping cart sneered, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Go look in the mirror!""Mirro...
Published: 07/09/18