Governor vetoes forfeiture legislation

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Gov. Mitch Daniels has vetoed legislation that would have sent the bulk of funds seized from criminals to prosecutors and police, rather than the Indiana Common School Fund.

In a statement Friday, Daniels said Senate Enrolled Act 215 violates the Indiana Constitution, which calls for the proceeds from “all forfeitures” to go to the Common School Fund, which helps pay for school construction.

The Indiana Supreme Court weighed in on the matter April 27, saying the only exception is "limited diversion" of some funds to law enforcement agencies. Daniels said lawmakers did not have the benefit of considering the court's opinion, which was issued in the final days of the legislative session.

“This bill would take more than 90 cents of every dollar collected through forfeiture for the ‘expense of collection’ rather than sending it to the Common School Fund," Daniels said in the statement.  "That is unwarranted as policy and constitutionally unacceptable in light of the Supreme Court’s recent guidance and the plain language of … the Indiana Constitution.”

State law currently allows law enforcement agencies to keep a portion of seized funds to cover "law enforcement costs" and give the rest to the Common School Fund. But the amounts are left to the discretion of each prosecutor and each has interpreted that differently.

This is the second piece of legislation Daniels vetoed this session. On May 10, he vetoed House Enrolled Act 1177, which addressed boards of trustees for universities. The legislation required that the majority of the members of the board of trustees of Indiana University and Ball State University be residents of Indiana, and that all IU board members be citizens of the United States.

The governor’s office said Friday that Daniels has now taken action on all legislation enacted during the 2011 legislative session.


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