Cincinnati Enquirer Op-Ed: Ohio Bill Would Curb Assault on Property Rights

This week, the Cincinnati Enquirer published a piece by Michael Hough, Senior Policy Adviser with the Faith & Freedom Coalition and Daniel Dew, Criminal Justice Fellow with the Buckeye Institute. In it, they call on the Ohio Senate not to let another year go by while Ohioans are deprived of their due process rights and to pass HB 347. Excerpts are provided below, and you can read the piece in full here.

Did you know that law enforcement can take your car, bank account or house – even without proving that you’ve done anything wrong? Civil asset forfeiture is a tool used by law enforcement to seize money, automobiles and other property suspected of being connected with or the proceeds of a crime. While this practice has its constitutional and practical uses, it has led to laws like those in Ohio, where citizens can have their property taken by the state without ever being convicted or even charged with a crime.”

[…]

“When it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of those who have their property seized by the government, Ohio is currently rated as one of the worst states in the nation, with a D- grade from the nonpartisan Institute for Justice. A poll by the bipartisan group Fix Forfeiture found that 81 percent of Ohioans agree civil asset forfeiture requires major reforms.”

[…]

“Government has a clear monetary incentive to continue this practice, but thanks to some legislators willing to do what’s right for their constituents, the Ohio House in May moved to improve property rights for citizens. Introduced by Reps. McColley and Brinkman, House Bill 347 overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 72 to 25.

“This legislation corrects the problem created by the federal government by limiting coordination with federal government unless the seizure exceeds $100,000. This would close a loophole that allows local law enforcement to use the more lenient federal standards for civil asset forfeiture. Additionally, in most cases where the government takes and keeps private property, a criminal conviction would be required.

“This legislation strikes an important balance of protecting private property rights, while still allowing law enforcement to seize illegal property like drugs and criminal evidence. Now it’s in the hands of the Ohio Senate.”