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Simpson files civil asset forfeiture bill

By Staff Reports
March 12, 2015 at 10:52 a.m.
Updated March 12, 2015 at 10:52 a.m.

State Rep. David Simpson speaks to a gathering of republicans during their county convention, on Saturday March 22, 2014, in the Pine Tree ISD auditorium. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

Longview state Rep. David Simpson filed a bill Wednesday in Austin to repeal Texas civil asset forfeiture law and instead require that money and property be taken only after someone has been criminally convicted of a crime related to the property.

“No one should forfeit their property without being convicted of a crime,” the Republican said. “Our current civil forfeiture provisions, though a well intended tool for law enforcement, have eroded the constitutional rights of individuals. It is time we end the practice.”

Simpson has been vocal about his opposition to the law enforcement practice of taking property or cash officers suspect is used in, or gained by, criminal activity — particularly illegal drug sales.

He previously voiced his support for a pending bill that would require local agencies to more stringently report assets taken from people and whether those eventually were awarded to the state by a civil court.

Law enforcement broadly opposes changes to the law, to the extent that the sheriffs and county judges from Simpson’s Gregg-Upshur district flew to Austin in early December when the representative joined a panel discussing reforms to the civil asset forfeiture law.

Simpson has been adamant in saying he does not oppose taking property that’s proven to be tied to crimes. He has been just as insistent the government should clear a higher hurdle to make that happen.

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