Wyoming Liberty Group
NEWCASTLE, WY – Wyoming Liberty Group staff attorney Steve Klein testified before the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee of the Wyoming Legislature today regarding two committee bill drafts that would substantially change the practice of civil forfeiture in Wyoming.
So it’s not just here in Cheyenne; if only that were comforting. Liz Goodwin reports at Yahoo! News that 600 MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles have been transferred to local law enforcement agencies across the United States since 2013, and there are 27,000 or so more where they came from. In Wyoming, police agencies have at least three, and Natrona County Sherriff Gus Holbrook says his department is “still finding out all the ways that [they] might be able to use it.”
You’ve got to be kidding me. Sadly, no, as the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports:
Short for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, MRAP weighs nearly 14 tons and is built to survive a blast from an improvised explosive device.
The Cheyenne Police Department got its own MRAP last month, and the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department is on a waiting list for another.
Of course the sheriff’s department wants one, too.
Cheyenne is home to one of the last Great American Barber Shops. This is a place where men* can go and not only get a haircut, but discuss important issues such as politics and the merits of Wyoming Whiskey and generally escape the rat race for a while. Indeed, I’ve met retired and current judges, state and local officials and generally interesting Cheyenne folk on my visits, and the setting provides for far more candor than a bar or any other business. Perhaps it’s an unwritten rule that what’s said in the shop stays in the shop, though the barber is happy to pass along what he’s heard to future visitors.
On May 13, I gave short testimony about the problems with civil forfeiture in Wyoming at the Joint Judiciary Committee meeting in Rawlins. The Legislative Service Office is preparing two potential committee bills for the committee to consider at its next meeting in July in Newcastle. The first bill, if it is adopted by the committee and passes the Legislature, will end civil forfeiture in Wyoming and replace it with a criminal forfeiture system; the other will provide comprehensive reporting requirements for forfeiture practice. The first bill is exactly how the justice system should work, ensuring that proceeds of crimes are taken from criminals without significantly endangering the property rights of law-abiding citizens. The second bill, which could serve as an alternative or supplement to the first, will at least provide the public with a full accounting of forfeiture in Wyoming. This is very important, because the current law requires very little reporting, and those reports have not been filed by the Attorney General since 1998.
Last week we filed a supplemental brief in Free Speech v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), a case that we brought on behalf of a small Wyoming grassroots group against the speech regulators in Washington, DC. We’re hopeful that our case will be heard, because the issues we raised nearly two years ago when we filed suit have only become more pressing. Our case challenges several FEC regulations as unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, meaning the average person cannot understand how to comply with them and thus risks fines and penalties just for speaking out about national politics. Our brief focuses on recent events at the FEC which further indicate that even the agency itself (the supposed experts) cannot agree on what the regulations mean.
In 2010, the website PolitiFact called Republican claims that Obamacare is a “government takeover” of healthcare the “Lie of the Year.” Last year, PolitiFact gave the title to President Obama’s claim that under Obamacare “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” Obviously, PolitiFact’s authority over what constitutes a “lie” is questionable given the contradiction between these two awards, and the website is subject to the same scrutiny we give everyone who speaks out about politics. But what if government gets to decide what constitutes “false” speech in politics and punish the “liars”?