Governor Laura Kelly Signs Senate Bill 458, Overhauling Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Laws

By Trish Svoboda

Today, April 23, Governor Laura Kelly signed Senate Bill 458, which brings about significant changes to the Kansas Standard Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Act. This legislation sets forth new protocols for asset forfeiture, enhancing the due process rights of property owners. It also boosts governmental accountability, while ensuring that local law enforcement’s access to federal aid in asset forfeiture cases is not interfered with.

For many Kansans, the expense of reclaiming their confiscated property is often greater than its worth. S.B. 458 ushers in crucial changes to the procedure for Kansans to recover their seized assets. This includes allowing courts to grant attorney fees to specific claimants who secure an order for the return of their property.

“Anyone who learns about civil asset forfeiture immediately agrees it’s a problem. Unfortunately, for years, we could never agree on what the solution should be,” said Kansas State Representative Dan Osman, District 48. “This year, I worked with judges, lawyers, law enforcement, legislators, and advocates from across the state to create a bill that comprehensively reforms this systemic issue. I’m thrilled we could get unanimous bipartisan and bicameral approval to eliminate this injustice.”

In addition, S.B. 458 mandates extra procedures to begin the civil asset seizure process and necessitates clear-cut and compelling proof to proceed with the seizure. The bill also sets restrictions on requests from state and local law enforcement for federal adoption of seizures, guaranteeing that these requests are made solely in particular situations tied to joint investigations or grave public safety issues.

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