On March 30, 2015, Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez urging her to sign HB 560 into law. The Land of Enchantment is on its way to becoming a role model for reforming the nation’s broken civil asset forfeiture laws. HB 560 would transfer funds obtained through civil asset forfeiture into the state’s general fund and require a criminal conviction in order to confiscate your property.
The bill passed the state legislature unanimously and is waiting to be signed by Gov. Martinez. These changes would bolster the credibility of law enforcement with their local communities, in addition to assuring law-abiding citizens that there is no danger of their property being confiscated. The following is the text of the letter sent to Governor Martinez:
March 30, 2015
Dear Governor Martinez,
I write to you today in strong support of HB 560, a bill passed on March 21 that reforms the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws. The bill would transfer funds obtained through civil asset forfeiture into the state’s general fund. Additionally, under the new rules, a criminal conviction would be required to confiscate property under civil asset forfeiture. It is my view that you would be doing New Mexico a service by signing the bill into law.
Having passed all committees and subcommittees unanimously, HB 560 enjoys strong support from both sides of the isle. These votes from the State legislature show the far-reaching appeal of reform, but it isn’t limited to the Senate and House, in fact, according to Rasmussen, 70% of Americans believe that you should be convicted of a crime in order for the police to seize your property.
We ask that you help put an end to a regime that allows authorities to take and keep property from individuals not charged with a crime. By signing the bill, civil asset forfeiture is changed into criminal asset forfeiture; thereby ensuring that criminals, not law-abiding civilians, pay the price for broken laws.
This new regime takes into account the need to punish law-breakers and the rights of citizens. Simply put, criminals should not enjoy the fruits of their bad behavior, and by requiring proof of wrongdoing we ensure that those who break the law pay up.
Moreover, the proposed reforms serve to bolster the credibility of law enforcement with their local communities. If law-abiding civilians are assured that there is no danger of their property being confiscated, confidence in the rule of law will be strengthened and officers will find it easier to gain the cooperation of their communities.
Reforming civil asset forfeiture is a major issue for voters across the United States. By acting now, New Mexico stands to be in the vanguard of states bent on modernizing police practices. Law enforcement should not have to be seen by the public as opportunistic profiteers, this HB 560 ensures the continued safety of civilians, the prosecution of the guilty, and the rule of law in New Mexico.
Grover G. Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform