A bill that would have ended the controversial practice of civil asset forfeiture in Oklahoma will not be debated by the legislature because one lawmaker is holding it up, and he is not responding to questions about why.
Right now, law enforcement can seize your property without charging you with a crime as long as they suspect the property they seize may somehow be tied to a crime. The Personal Asset Protection Act would require a conviction before assets could be seized.
“After that conviction then they could use it for whatever,” said the bill’s author, Kyle Loveless. “If not then they could not take it.”
Loveless said the bill would also require some accountability.
“Law enforcement’s only supposed to be spending the money specifically on drug interdiction. Well, we have found cases of the (Assistant district attorney) living in a (Seized) house; student loans; retirement parties; donuts. I mean things that are not what the money’s intended to do,” said Loveless.
Senator Loveless said it's a good bill that most Oklahoman's want to see passed. But it will never even be debated because Judiciary Chairman Senator Anthony Sykes, wouldn't let it be heard in committee.
“I know that Chairman Sykes was contacted by hundreds of people from all over the state but also his district. I don’t know why he hasn’t heard the bill. He hasn’t expressed it to me,” Loveless said, “I’ve written him several letters. I’ve written him several e-mails. I’ve been by his office. Text messages on how to make the bill better…none of them were reciprocated.”
So News 9 tried.
News 9 called Senator Sykes and even went to his office twice. He never responded to requests for comment.
“I would agree that this is not how government’s supposed to work,” Loveless said.
Loveless plans to re-word his bill and bring it to the floor of the senate, but it would take a supermajority of votes for the bill to move forward.