Home > Issues & Alerts > Legislative Alerts > SB 175 S2 (Buttars) Passed Senate, Awaiting Action in House!  (Alert 2/23/04)









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SB 175 S2 (Buttars) Passed Senate, Awaiting Action in House!

(Alert 2/23/04; provided by Arnold Gaunt)

To receive forfeiture alerts, e-mail ajgaunt@xmission.com.
Please forward (intact)!


1. Senate Takes Action Against Your Right to Own Property

2. SB 175 Subjects You to Unjust Federal Confiscation Statutes

3. Will the Utah House Defeat 2nd Substitute SB 175?

4. Action You Must Take


1. Senate Takes Action Against Your Right to Own Property

On Thursday, February 19, the Senate passed Second Substitute S.B. 175 (read it in .pdf format as well) by a vote of 18-11. The 2nd Substitute differs little from the 1st Substitute and original version. All versions trample on your rights by providing Utah police financial incentives to subject you to unjust federal confiscation statutes.

Your calls and contacts with Senators helped to change some votes in the Senate. Specifically, the following co-sponsors of S.B. 175 voted no on the third reading:

Leonard Blackham, Thomas Hatch, Ed Mayne, Dave Thomas

In addition, Sen. Hellewell voted no on the third reading, after having voted yes on the second reading of the bill.

Here are the 18 Senators that have attacked your right to own property:

Allen, Arent, Bell, Bramble, Buttars, Davis, Dmitrich, Eastman, Evans, B., Evans, J., Hale, Hickman, Hillyard, Julander, Killpack, Knudson, Mansell, Walker

Here are the 11 Senators who opposed S.B. 175 and its attacks on your rights:

Blackham, Gladwell, Hatch, Hellewell, Jenkins, Mayne, Stephenson, Thomas, Valentine, Waddoups, Wright


2. SB 175 Subjects You to Unjust Federal Confiscation Statutes

To protect you from unjust federal confiscation statutes, Initiative B (Forfeiture Reform) did two things:

1) Severely restricted transfer of seized property to the federal government, and

2) prohibited Utah police agencies from receiving proceeds from federal forfeitures.

Unfortunately, a loophole exists with regard to the restrictions on transferring seized property. If a Utah police agency or task force participates in a joint investigation with federal police, they are eligible under federal “equitable sharing” guidelines to receive up to 80% of the proceeds from forfeited property.

Therefore, Utah police do not seize property anymore, but facilitate the federal government to directly perform the seizure and forfeiture. The transfer restrictions in the Initiative do not address this scenario. For their “services”, the police become eligible to receive a kickback as previously described.

However, the current state law does not allow the police to keep forfeiture revenue from the federal government. Because of this, the U.S. Department of Justice, in collaboration with Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, is allegedly holding several million dollars of confiscation proceeds to in effect politically extort/bribe the state legislature to repeal the “policing for profit” restrictions now in effect.

The federal confiscation statutes (see Title 18, Section 983, U.S. Code) destroy due process of law through the following mechanisms:

  • The owner is presumed to be guilty

  • The owner must prove his innocence to have his property returned

  • Forfeiture is authorized based on the alleged conduct of the property, not its owner

  • An owner who successfully proves his innocence does not receive attorneys fees and costs, making it unreasonable for him to contest forfeiture of property valued less than the expense of legal defense

  • A forfeiture is allowed to be disproportional to the alleged wrongdoing (owner must prove forfeiture is grossly disproportional)

  • Forfeitures can be performed administratively, instead of in a court

  • The seizing agency can receive up to 80% of the net proceeds, depriving property owners of their justified expectation of fair and impartial justice

[Accountability Utah note: Pay particular attention to the paragraph on "innocent owner defense":

(d) Innocent Owner Defense.
(1) An innocent owner's interest in property shall not be forfeited under any civil forfeiture statute. The claimant shall have the burden of proving that the claimant is an innocent owner by a preponderance of the evidence

The claimant is the defendant, i.e. you.  Good luck proving your innocence!]


3. Will the Utah House Defeat 2nd Substitute SB 175?

The House Rules Committee now has control of the bill. The appropriate course of action for the Rules Committee to take is to hold the bill until the legislative session has concluded. It is not possible, given the limited time remaining, to effectively undertake amendments addressing the injustices and subversions in 2nd Sub. S.B. 175.

Speaker Marty Stephens has appointed every House Committee Chairman and Committee member. He is directly responsible and accountable for the priority and flow of 2nd Sub. S.B. 175 through the House. As the leader of the House Republican Caucus, Speaker Stephens should be using his position to influence the Rules Committee and to expose the danger to innocent property owners posed by the bill.


4. Action You Must Take

It is imperative that you make contact with Speaker Stephens and your Representative. With respect to Speaker Stephens, insist that he use the power of his position to stop 2nd Substitute S.B. 175 by influencing the House Rules Committee to hold the bill, and to inform and persuade the House Republican Caucus to a position of opposition. Tell Speaker Stephens that his performance on S.B. 175 will be an important factor in determining your vote for Governor in 2004.

You may reach House members at 801-538-1029, or fax 801-538-1908. Democrat House members may be contacted at 801-538-9505, or fax 801-538-1016. Obtain additional contact information at the house Web site.
Accountability Utah note: Find your representative or obtain additional contact information.


Arnold J. Gaunt
(801) 621-3122


Note from Accountability Utah: For more information, see the Property Rights section of our Issues & Alerts page.  Also, you can help pass out fliers in your neighborhood.


If you have comments or suggestions, please email us at info@accountabilityutah.org.


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