Local rep. has two bills signed into law

Legislation deals with civil forfeiture, education

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 25, 2017

 State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, discusses his civil asset forfeiture reform bill on the floor of the Capitol Building in Lansing.

State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, discusses his civil asset forfeiture reform bill on the floor of the Capitol Building in Lansing.

Photo provided by Zac Britton

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, recently had two bills signed into Michigan law by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The bills do away with bond and time requirements for retrieving seized property and instate a civics test about the U.S. for high schoolers, respectively.

Public Act 418 of 2016 removes the requirement that property owners must post a 10 percent bond — not less than $250 or more than $5,000 — within 20 days of seizure by law enforcement officials to start the process of potentially returning the property to its owners.

Michigan was one of five states with such a requirement, according to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

“I want to wait until after there is a criminal conviction (before police officers seize property),” Lucido said. “There’s a statute that says they have the right to do this if they suspect money or property is a result of a crime or garnered as the result of a crime or criminal activity.”

The bill, he said, is the first step to accomplish his goal.

“It’s a subjective finding as a police officer,” he said. “(A judge) should give court orders — inductive orders — to not allow someone to sell, convert, conceal or remove (property).”

Lucido said that requiring suspects to post bond within a time frame of seizure for the possible return of their property is a blow to low-income individuals.

“With this measure, lawmakers have given Michigan residents a crucial tool to protect themselves and their property against illegal searches and seizures,” said ACLU of Michigan Deputy Legal Director Dan Korobkin in a statement. “While we’re pleased with this important step, we urge Michigan lawmakers to build on this momentum by continuing to champion sensible, effective and humane criminal justice reform.”

Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide said that the law will not change the way that the Shelby Township Police Department does business.

“We will continue to follow the forfeiture laws and work with the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office,” he said. “The intent is to separate the criminal from ill-gotten gains to prevent them from making a profit from the sale of illegal substances.”

When the law takes effect, he said, police will no longer take a cash bond to initiate the civil complaint.

“Claimants always had the option to contest the forfeiture in court,” Shelide said. “Shelby Township never used forfeiture assets as a source of revenue.”

Public Act 291 of 2016 requires students to pass a civics test containing questions from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services test. The local board of education will pick from 100 possible questions and allow students to retake the test.

The bill was one of the first that Lucido submitted as a legislator. The language of the final draft did change significantly. In the first draft, students had to get at least 60 percent correct on a 10-question test to graduate.

“It’s a good start,” Lucido said. “Government runs in turtle steps. I do know giving and exposing the students to the same questions we’re giving to our (immigrants) is a step in the right direction.”

In an emailed response to the Shelby-Utica News regarding the education law, Utica Community Schools Superintendent Christine Johns wrote, “An integral piece to our district’s vision is that students are successful and contributing members of their world. The law supports these efforts and reinforces the importance that our students are civic-minded and have a clear understanding of the need to be active participants in a democratic society.”