Here’s an update on what happened at the Capitol last week and what action items are coming up this week.
(CAF) Attorney’s Fees
HB1254/SB1361 changes attorney’s fees reimbursement on civil forfeiture cases from a $3k cap to a $10k cap.
Jerry Sexton’s (R-Bean Station) house bill got through the Civil Justice Committee on 4/14 and is ready for a floor vote. Chairman Mike Bell’s (R-Riceville) Senate bill was rolled on 4/13 and will be heard in his Senate Judiciary Committee on 4/20.
This bill has met zero resistance from the Department of Safety, and for that reason we expect this bill to also get through the Senate subcommittee and be ready for a floor vote after next week.
(CAF) Bond Bill
HB59/SB260 removes the bond associated with reclaiming property seized through civil forfeiture. Both versions of this bill have passed their subcommittees and are waiting to be heard in finance ways and means in both houses, with the house bill being heard on 4/21.
This bill is “behind the budget,” and carries a $384,110 fiscal note (projected loss of state revenue). What this means is that the bill is not part of the items already accounted for in the projected budget items for next year. Items unaccounted for in next year’s budget will compete with other pieces of legislation for funding out of approximately $18.5M in miscellaneous funds.
We are still making efforts to get the bill added to the budget, but currently, it remains “behind the budget,” making passage less certain than it would be otherwise.
HB409/SB452 would require the Department of Safety to report various pieces of information pertaining to civil forfeitures.
Justin Lafferty (R-Knoxville) amended the bill to meet all of the Department of Safety’s suggestions and presented his bill on 4/13 but it died in committee after not receiving a second on the motion to hear the bill. As a result, the Senate version was sent to the general subcommittee, essentially killing the legislation entirely this year.
No Knock Raids
HB1406/SB1380 ends the practice of no-knock raids, requires officers to intervene in and report on situations of excessive force, and limits the ability of LEO’s to fire weapons in traffic.
Chairman Mike Bell’s (R-Riceville) Senate bill passed subcommittee on 4/13 on a unanimous 8-0 vote, and is scheduled for a vote in the full Senate on 4/19. Hopefully, this will create momentum for the house version. Michael Curcio’s (R-Dickson) House bill is set to be heard in his Criminal Justice Subcommittee on 4/21.
Please consider reaching out to the members of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, and the members of the Senate to encourage them to support this bill.
Essential vs Nonessential
HB37/SB1573 Restricts executive officials from labeling businesses as essential or nonessential in the event of an emergency. Originally this bill applied to executives at the state, county, and city level. Unfortunately, the Governor’s office opposed the legislation until the bill was amended so that it did not apply at the state level. Obviously, that weakened the bill, but it still applies to cities and counties, and that is a big step in the right direction.
Paul Bailey’s (R-Sparta) Senate bill passed the full Senate on 4/12 by a vote of 27 to 3! Brandon Ogle’s (R-Franklin) house version has passed committee and is ready for a floor vote in the House.
HB43/SB456 would prevent the use of surveillance equipment on an individual’s private property without a warrant.
Chairman Mike Bell’s (R-Riceville) Senate version was sent to the general subcommittee in his Senate Judiciary Committee on 4/13, effectively killing the legislation.
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Chairman of the Board