URGENT: Two state bills in committee this afternoon – email legislators now!

Utahns, we need your help! These two bills are both going before Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Standing Committee at the Utah State Capitol this afternoon at 4:10pm. Have you contacted the committee members yet? There are only a few hours left to take action!

CALL TO ACTION

HB 93 Judicial Nominating Process Amendments is a BAD BILL that eliminates the ability to consider diversity of any kind when all other qualifications are equal for recommendations to the governor for judicial appointments. The current state judiciary is already disproportionately white and male, a fact that erodes public trust in the system. HB 93 is so egregious that even the Utah State Bar has come out against it, as well as the Dean of the University of Utah Law School, the CCJJ (who make the judicial appointment recommendations) and the ACLU. More info here.

  • Please contact the members of the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Standing Committee to oppose HB 93 Judiciary Nominating Process Amendments BEFORE 4:10p TODAY (member email addresses below). Be sure to mention if you are a constituent!
  • Are you a lawyer or retired judge wanting to testify against this bill? Please contact us, or go directly to the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Standing Committee meeting at 4:10p (agenda item #4), 250 State Capitol Building.

HB 19 Civil Asset Forfeiture Amendments is a GOOD BILL working to bring social justice to the vulnerable communities most at risk of having their property seized by the state by requiring that criminal charges actually be filed in order for the government to keep your property. It will also require a clearer connection between the seized property and the alleged crime and make it easier for regular people to get their property back. But HB 19 doesn’t look like a typical social justice bill, so Democrats on the committee need more encouragement than others to get behind it. The ACLU of Utah and other partners worked closely with Rep. Greene on this bill, improving it and refining it over the course of two years. It has already passed in the House, but must pass though the Senate Committee and full Senate and then get signed by the Governor in order to pass. More info here and talking points below.

  • Please contact the members of the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Standing Committee, particularly the Democrats to encourage them to approve HB 19 Civil Asset Forfeiture Amendments BEFORE 4:10p TODAY (member email addresses below). Be sure to mention if you are a constituent!
  • When you contact the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Weiler, please let him know that HB 19 goes much further to protect private property owners from government seizures than a another asset forfeiture reform bill, SB87 sponsored by Sen. Dan Thatcher (another member of the SJLCJ Committee). Be sure to mention if you are a constituent!
  • Please also contact your own state senator to support HB 19 Civil Asset Forfeiture Amendments! Find your state senator’s contact info here.

Members of the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Standing Committee to email:

Democrats (Sen. Davis and Sen. Escamilla): davis@le.utah.govlescamilla@le.utah.gov
Chairman Weiler: tweiler@le.utah.gov

All members:

tweiler@le.utah.govdavis@le.utah.govlescamilla@le.utah.govwniederhauser@le.utah.govrokerlund@le.utah.govlhillyard@le.utah.govdthatcher@le.utah.gov

Talking points about the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform bill:

  • In 2000, Utah voters overwhelmingly voted IN SUPPORT of assert forfeiture reforms. After years of those reforms being slowly rolled back, we want to see a return to the reforms that Utah voters demanded nearly 20 years ago. HB19 would do just that.
  • Data sent to the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice from law enforcement agencies around the state clearly show that police are NOT using asset forfeiture to break up “big criminal enterprises.” For the most part, they are seizing CASH, with the average seizure about $1,300. In almost all cases (94%), no criminal charges are ever brought – but the property is still kept by the government.
  • Misuse and abuse of civil asset forfeiture most often negatively impacts people who don’t use traditional banking practices: immigrant and refugee communities, people of color, and low-income people. This practice is meant to hurt crime kingpins, but it’s actually hurting people who can’t afford to lose what little property they have.

Once again, we are sharing the comparison below, created by and used with permission from our Fourth Amendment friends at the Libertas Institute. We hope you will take the time to contact your State Senator and ask for a POSITIVE VOTE on HB19. This is especially important if your legislator serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The members of that committee are:

Sen. Todd Weiler (R), Chair
Sen. Gene Davis (D)
Sen. Luz Escamilla (D)
Sen. Lyle W. Hillyard (R)
Sen. Wayne L. Niederhauser (R)
Sen. Ralph Okerlund (R)
Sen. Daniel W. Thatcher (R)

 


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