A rare bipartisan measure that would have made selling or giving heroin to someone who overdoses a case of second-degree murder was rejected Thursday by the Idaho House, with opponents supporting the legislation’s intent to curb drug use but saying it went too far.
A second bipartisan bill that aims to limit what property can be seized in drug-related crimes passed and now moves to the Senate.
The “heroin-induced homicide” bill failed on a 26-43 vote, with Democrats and Republicans voting on both sides. The proposed new law would have made someone liable for another person’s death regardless of intent to cause it. Opponents said that conflicts with the legal definition of murder, which includes clear intent.
Opponents also said the measure was a throwback to 1990s-era “tough-on-crime” bills and out of step with current thinking on how to reduce drug abuse and drug crime.
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The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian, and Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, and had six additional co-sponsors.
A state study shows that 1,652 Idahoans died from a drug overdose or long-term drug abuse from 2004 to 2013, a death-rate increase of nearly 77 percent.
The House vote on the civil asset forfeiture bill was 58-10. The measure, co-sponsored by Reps. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, and Steven Harris, R-Meridian, requires authorities to show an actual connection between drugs and related activity and any property seized, beyond physical location and proximity.
The existing civil asset forfeiture law allows police to seize someone’s cash or cars if authorities believe it’s tied to a crime; a person doesn’t need to be charged with a crime to have property seized.
States have been scrutinizing forfeiture laws in recent years as civil liberties groups and others highlighted abuses of cash, vehicles and property seized despite hazy connections to a purported crime.
The bill had support of property rights groups and the ACLU but was opposed by the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association.
Associated Press contributed