CHEYENNE – One bill which has had the spotlight this session is the asset=forfeiture bill. It gain a lot of added attention last week after Wyoming Governor Matt Mead vetoed to the bill. On Friday, the Wyoming Senate voted not to override the veto.
The bill would have made it harder for police and prosecutors to seize property from people they believe has been involved in drug crimes. In the proposed bill, it would have required a person be convicted of a felony drug crime before their property could be seized by the state.
Under the current Wyoming law, police and law enforcement can confiscate property if they believe it has been linked to a crime. This includes money.
As a former U.S. Attorney, Mead has said several times he does not believe Wyoming has seen the abuses of this law and there is no reason why the current law should be changed. In his letter to the Senate President explaining his reasons for vetoing the bill, Mead thanks the Legislature for their work on the bill. He again said while he understands that civil forfeiture proceedings have been abused in some states, there is nothing that justifies the change in Wyoming.
Mead responded to the Wyoming Senate vote on Friday.
“I respect the difficult work and the hard discussions the Legislature had on the forfeiture issue. I believe improvements can and should be made to civil forfeiture,” Mead said in a statement given to the media on Friday. “The Chairman of Judiciary, the Committee and the Legislature as a whole recognized the need for improvement. I commit to work with the Committee and the Legislature on this matter in the interim so we can come back next year with a bill that addresses concerns and leaves law enforcement with the necessary tools to do its work.”
There were seven Senators who vote to override the veto while 23 voted not to override the veto on Friday. Local Senators, John Hastert, Bernadine Craft, and Larry Hicks voted not to override the veto while Sen. Stan Cooper voted in favor of overriding the veto. Overriding the veto would have required a two-thirds vote in both houses.
The Senate voted in favor of the bill after the third reading by a vote of 26 for, three against and one excused. All local Senators voted in favor of the bill. After passing the Senate it then went to the House. The House voted 54-6 in favor of the bill. Local Representatives, Mark Baker, Fred Baldwin, Stan Blake, John Freeman and Jerry Paxton voted in favor of the bill while Rep JoAnn Dayton voted against the bill.