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Bill to prevent police from unfairly seizing property clears state House

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The Michigan House of Representatives. Union members protested today in a State House committee room.

Michigan would give police less freedom to seize and sell property under bills making their way through the state Legislature.

The state House approved the bills on Thursday with wide bipartisan support.

Under the legislation, police would have to report more information about the property they seize through Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture laws.

“This is going to allow us to get to the bottom of the key question, which is, is asset forfeiture being used to steal the assets of people who are otherwise complying with the law like medical marijuana patients? Or is asset forfeiture being used against the Pablo Escobars and the gang leaders of the world?” said state Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), who has long criticized Michigan’s asset forfeiture laws.

“Police agencies are going to have to report what they took, what they auctioned off, where that money went, and whether or not the people whose assets they took were ever charged or convicted of a crime, and what sort of crime.”

The bills would also make it harder for police to keep the property they take in some situations. And they would stop police from seizing vehicles when a person is transporting less than an ounce of marijuana.

The legislation now goes to the state Senate.

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