SPONSOR: Wiggins (Kreider)

COMMITTEE ACTION: Voted "do pass" by the Committee on Education - Elementary and Secondary by a vote of 16 to 4 with 1 present.

This substitute amends several sections of the Criminal Activity Forfeiture Act (CAFA). Definitions of "seizure" and "seizing agency" are added. The substitute clarifies that seized property: (1) includes cash and negotiable instruments and (2) must not be transferred to a federal agency until the prosecuting attorney and the circuit judge of the county approve, no matter what agency seized the property. New provisions state that: (1) seized property must not be disposed of through the Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act or through the provisions of Section 542.301, RSMo, on unclaimed seized property, unless a CAFA proceeding has failed; and (2) the prosecuting attorney or Attorney General must also submit a copy of the report on the value and disposition of seized property that is filed with the Department of Public Safety to the State Auditor and that the State Auditor must compile the data from these reports for submission to the General Assembly annually by February 28. Class A misdemeanor penalties of up to $1,000 are imposed for failure to comply with reporting and audit requirements.

FISCAL NOTE: Increase to School Building Revolving Fund of Unknown in FY 2001, FY 2002, and FY 2003.

PROPONENTS: Supporters say that a joint interim committee investigated the issue of revenues from seizures during the autumn of 1999, after reports that proceeds were being diverted away from education. The appearance of contingency seizures leaves a bad perception with the public, because law enforcement should not get a financial advantage out of seizing property. One recommendation from law enforcement officers was that the statutes on seizure needed to be clarified.

Testifying for the bill were Senators Wiggins and Stoll; Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Missouri Council of School Administrators; Missouri State Teachers Association; Missouri Federation of Teachers; Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City; and Cooperating School Districts of Greater St. Louis.

OPPONENTS: Those who oppose the bill say that law enforcement agencies prefer the 50/50 split approach between law enforcement and education. Without some alternative or additional source of funding, like a grant program, law enforcement is being asked to do more with less.

Testifying against the bill were Missouri Sheriff's Association; and Missouri Police Chiefs Association.

Becky DeNeve, Senior Legislative Analyst