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Minutes for HB2459 - Committee on Judiciary

Short Title

Amending the Kansas standard asset seizure and forfeiture act and establishing the Kansas asset seizure and forfeiture repository.

Minutes Content for Wed, Mar 14, 2018

Chairman Wilborn opened the hearing on HB2459 - Amending the Kansas standard asset seizure and forfeiture act and establishing the Kansas asset seizure and forfeiture repository.  Jason Thompson provided an overview of the bill and answered questions from committee members. (Attachment 1)

Chris Joseph, a private practice attorney and member of the Judicial Council Civil Asset Forfeiture Advisory Committee, offered support for HB2459 and explained that the bill was not intended to be the end goal of reform; it embodies those points on which everyone on the committee could agree.  Mr. Joseph commented the bill provides an avenue for future consideration through the reporting requirements, and it also provides increased access to justice for those who believe they should be repaid or should not have had property seized.  Under the bill, agencies are held accountable by losing the ability to forfeit if they are not compliant with the requirements. (Attachment 2)

Kirk Thompson supported HB2459 and spoke directly to the reporting requirements.  His agency, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, endorses the requirements and would be happy to enact them as required in the bill.  (Attachment 3)

Jeff Easter gave support for HB2459 and indicated the bill corrects deficiencies found in a post audit report. (Attachment 4)

Dennis Butler spoke in favor of HB2459, agreed with previous conferees, and commented on the requirements for informing citizens of the reasons for forfeiture.  Mr. Butler pointed out the need to fund the KBI for the cost of setting up the database required by the bill. (Attachment 5)

Frank Denning also agreed with other conferees as he gave support for HB2459 and highlighted the reporting requirements as a good balance which will create consistency in the use of forfeiture funds.  (Attachment 6)

Amanda Stanley spoke in favor of HB2459 and compared asset forfeiture to a tool which needs to be monitored to determine whether it is functioning properly.  (Attachment 7)

Kim Parker supported HB2459 and indicated it is not only a first step, but a large step toward creating a transparent way to collect data and toward providing greater access to justice.  Ms. Parker also noted the connections between the civil asset forfeiture process and the criminal process. (Attachment 8)

Vignesh Ganapathy gave support for HB2459 and commented on the use of asset forfeiture as a means to tap the fruit of criminal enterprises and keep those assets from financing more crime.  Mr. Ganapathy recommended passage of the bill as a way to deal with fraud within the system. (Attachment 9)

The Chairman pointed out written testimony in favor of HB2459 submitted by Melissa Wangemann for the Kansas Association of Counties (Attachment 10), by Daniel Murray for the National Federation of Independent Business (Attachment 11), and by Jessica Glendening for the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (Attachment 12).

Chairman Wilborn also noted written neutral testimony from Representative Gail Finney (Attachment 13) and from James Franko, Kansas Policy Institute (Attachment 14).

Greg Smith spoke from a neutral stance on HB2459, giving support for the reporting process and the judicial reform provided by the bill.  Mr. Smith indicated asset forfeiture is not used often and is typically used with larger cases involving significant sums of money. (Attachment 15)

Conferees answered questions from the committee.

Chairman Wilborn closed the hearing on HB2459.