CSG Midwest provides overview of trends in civil asset forfeiture laws to Kansas Legislature

At the request of the Kansas Legislature’s Special Committee on Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform, CSG Midwest staff provided testimony in December detailing recent statutory changes across this region.

The state-by-state overview includes several examples of new laws that:

  • raise the standard of proof in forfeiture cases;
  • add new protections and due process rights, particularly for “innocent property owners”;
  • require a conviction in related criminal cases in order for property to be forfeited;
  • mandate more public disclosure and reporting by law enforcement; and
  • restrict the use of civil asset forfeiture proceeds.

PowerPoint of CSG Midwest testimony to Kansas Legislature »

Throughout the year, CSG Midwest provides committee testimony, in-state policy and professional development training, and individualized research assistance to legislators as part of its suite of products and services for the Midwestern Legislative Conference.


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In Memoriam: Former NH State Rep. Suzanne Smith

Former New Hampshire State Representative Suzanne Smith passed away over the weekend.

Suzanne served in the New Hampshire legislature from 2008 until her retirement in 2022, including on the Environment and Agriculture Committee, and was a long-time member of the CSG East Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

“She was an avid hiker and birder, and her love of nature was what drove her to sponsor many bills that helped to protect NH natural resources,” said Tara Sad and Bob Haefner, who both served in the New Hampshire legislature alongside Suzanne before joining CSG East.

“We had fun traveling with her to many CSG East and SARL meetings over the years and got to know her as a friend as well as a colleague,” said Sad. “She was a wonderful person and will be sorely missed.”

News of Suzanne’s passing was also reported by Paula Tracy at InDepthNH.org:

“Our amazing Suzanne—conservationist, birder, hiker, wildlife tracker, reader, scuba diver, singer, NH House representative, local library volunteer, and a friend to all, passed away peacefully yesterday afternoon,” [former state Rep. Joyce Weston] wrote to friends. “She was surrounded by her daughters and close friends.”


Smith was sponsor of bills on OHRV use, definitions for “wake” boats, greenhouse gas emissions legislation, composting, rail trail management, rural access to broadband and sponsored a bill in support of the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid which is being forced to move from the former Laconia State School property due to its pending sale.

Born in Green Bay, Wisc., in 1948, she was a copy editor and broadcaster and owned a natural food store from 1977 to 1998.

She was treasurer of the New Hampshire Audubon Pemi-Baker Chapter from 2008.

Smith was certified by the Council for Homeopathic Certification in 2002 and served as assistant editor/copy editor for the American Homeopathic Journal.

Suzanne was also a graduate of the CSG East Eastern Leadership Academy, class of 2013, and was active on the regional Energy and Environment committee. She was a frequent attendee at the Annual Meeting and will be sorely missed by CSG East members and staff alike.

Details of memorial or funeral services had not yet been shared as of Tuesday morning.

The National Summit to Advance States’ Criminal Justice Priorities

States face numerous and pressing criminal justice challenges that directly impact communities and agencies across multiple levels of government. State leaders—governors, legislators, and agency officials—play a critical role in ensuring public safety by setting priorities, identifying policies and programs to achieve them, and allocating finite resources that impact every area of the justice system. At the same time, state leaders are struggling to address challenges in accessing treatment across the continuum and acute shortages in the workforce, improve services for victims of crime, and increase opportunities for people returning to their communities from incarceration. Effectively addressing these challenges requires state leaders to examine system operations carefully, define the outcomes they want to see, and work collaboratively to adjust key policies, practices, and budgets to bridge the gaps.

You can view your state’s criminal justice snapshot here:









North Carolina


South Carolina




West Virginia

The post The National Summit to Advance States’ Criminal Justice Priorities appeared first on CSG South.

Connect with CSG: Visits to Midwest’s state capitols in early 2024

The Council of State Governments is visiting state capitols across the Midwest in early 2024 to discuss CSG’s programs and services with the region’s legislators, other policy leaders and staff. The following dates are set; please reach out via email to the CSG Midwest staff listed below if you would like to set up a time to meet in person:

• Jan. 23-24: Indiana (Derek Cantù)
• Jan. 24-25: South Dakota (Jon Davis)
• Jan. 30-31: Iowa (Derek Cantù)
• Feb. 7-8: Kansas (Laura Kliewer)
• Feb. 7-8: Nebraska (Tim Anderson)
• Feb. 13-14: Wisconsin (Jon Davis)
• April 17-18: Illinois (Mitch Arvidson)

Dates for this year’s annual visits to Michigan (Laura Kliewer), Minnesota (Rebecca Leis) and Ohio (Amanda Seidel) are not yet set. North Dakota is not in session in 2024.

CSG is a region-based, national organization that promotes excellence in state government. CSG fosters the interstate exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy; it offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.

Much of the organization’s work for legislators in this region is done through CSG Midwest’s support of the bipartisan, binational Midwestern Legislative Conference.

CSG Midwest’s products and services include:

CSG Midwest also provides secretariat services and support to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus and the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission.

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Should deception be allowed in police interrogation of juveniles? The question is being raised in legislatures; two Midwest states ban the practice

Some states in the Midwest, and across the country, are re-evaluating whether law enforcement officials should be allowed to purposely present false information to detained minors during an interrogation in order to, for example, solicit a “confession.”

“ ‘Don’t lie to children’ is a powerful message,’ ” says Steven Drizin, a clinical professor of law at Northwestern University and co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions. “Children, even more so than adults, are deferential to authority figures. And that is especially so in the interrogation room.”

According to the Innocence Project, among cases that ended in exoneration between 1989 and 2020 due to DNA testing, 29 percent involved a false confession. Thirty-one percent of the false confessors were 18 years old or younger at the time of arrest.

“Deceptive interrogation tactics lead to false confessions and injustice for both the persons who falsely confess as well as the victims of the crime because the true assailant is not brought to justice,” Nebraska Sen. John Cavanaugh says.

He sponsored LB 135 in 2023, a year in which “anti-deception” measures were introduced in Nebraska and three other Midwestern legislatures (see map).

Indiana: No false facts, notify parent/guardian

Passed unanimously by the Indiana General Assembly, SB 415 includes two main provisions involving the interrogation of juveniles.

First, it aims to stop law enforcement and school resource officers from knowingly offering false facts about evidence or making false statements about possible leniency to detained individuals younger than 18 years old. Statements, including confessions, made by a young person under these circumstances are now inadmissible in criminal or juvenile proceedings against the person.

Second, SB 415 requires law enforcement to make a “reasonable attempt” to notify a child’s parent, guardian or emergency contact when the young person has been arrested or taken into custody for a crime committed at a school or at a school-sponsored activity.

There are certain exceptions to this second requirement — for example, if the juvenile is emancipated, or if a medical emergency or student safety are involved.

“I don’t believe that law enforcement frequently engages in providing false information to children,” Sen. Rodney Pol said following the passage of his bill. “Yet any time it does happen, [it’s] harmful to children, their future, their families, and the justice system. … This bill seeks to stop those confessions and build more trust.”

At least two other like-minded bills were introduced this year in Midwestern legislatures: Michigan’s HB 4436 and Nebraska’s LB 135. Cavanaugh says his measure remains alive for the 2024 session. In Minnesota, HF 2319/SF 2495 would have made admissions, confessions or statements inadmissible in all instances where law enforcement uses deceptive tactics — no matter the age of the person being interrogated.

In all three states, these bills did not advance out of committee in 2023.

Illinois: No confessions via ‘knowing deception’

According to Drizin, Indiana joined eight other U.S. states that have changed their laws in recent years to prevent intentionally deceptive tactics by law enforcement when interrogating minors. The first state to pass such a law was Illinois. The final version of SB 2122, signed into law in 2021, received unanimous approval in the House and Senate.

Under the law, a confession by a juvenile, whether oral or written, is inadmissible in a criminal proceeding in most circumstances if it was “procured through the knowing use of deception.”

“This is not only a criminal justice reform bill that has bipartisan sponsorship support but, equally important, has strong support from our law enforcement partners,” Rep. Justin Slaughter, the bill’s chief sponsor, said on the House floor as SB 2122 moved through the Illinois General Assembly.

“As it relates to prosecutors proving the voluntariness of confessions, we lowered the burden-of-proof standard to make that easier for them.

“Secondly, we limited what qualifies as an inadmissible statement. We wanted to clarify that a statement made by the minor that incriminates someone else would still be admissible, even if deception was used.”

At the time, Illinois Rep. Curtis Tarver said these new protections for young people should also be extended to adults with limited cognitive abilities, arguing that this population is just as vulnerable to deceptive coercion.

“I don’t know that a 35-year-old who is essentially functioning with a mindset of a 14-year-old should have deception used on him or her in any manner that’s different because they’re not 18 or under,” he said.

Two years later, Tarver’s HB 3253 was signed into law. It takes effect in 2024 and bars the use of deceptive tactics in interrogations of individuals of any age with a “severe or profound intellectual disability.”

Miranda rights: Clear language for children

Along with these anti-deception measures, Drizin says clearer explanations to young people of their Miranda rights can help avoid miscommunication with law enforcement. Children and adolescents have a harder time than adults in understanding and exercising these rights than adults, he adds, especially under stressful conditions.

“Making the language of the rights more simple and understandable [could help], or requiring that children explain back to law enforcement officers what they understand after they’re given their rights,” he says.

In states such as Maryland, California, and Washington, Drizin notes, a consultation with an attorney is required before minors can waive their Miranda rights.

In 2016, Illinois (SB 2370) began requiring that an attorney be present for an interrogation of individuals 15 and younger in murder or sex-offense cases, that interrogations of juveniles be videotaped, and that officers use a simpler version of the Miranda warning in interactions with young people.

Officers must now say this to young people: “You have the right to get help from a lawyer; if you cannot pay for a lawyer, the court will get you one for free.”

They must then ask the juvenile two questions: “Do you want to have a lawyer?” and “Do you want to talk to me?”

Without the use of this language, statements made by the juvenile become inadmissible.

  • Scales of justice.Prohibit confessions or admissions from being used against a child under a certain age
  • Establish a right for minors, which cannot be waived, to consult with legal counsel prior to interrogation
  • Require interrogations to be electronically or video recorded
  • Bar law enforcement from knowingly using deception
  • Require the presence of a parent/guardian or attorney
  • Require the use of Miranda warnings that help children better understand their rights

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Capital Closeup: In the Midwest, every state constitution has a ‘single subject’ rule, which was at the center of two recent cases in Nebraska and North Dakota

The language in state constitutions is sometimes as old as the documents themselves: No bill or law shall “embrace” or “contain” more than a single subject.

Every state in the Midwest, and 43 of the 50 U.S. states, has some version of this single-subject rule, a constitutional provision adopted by states to prevent legislative mischief and “logrolling” and to control the powers of special interests, says David Schultz, a political science professor at Hamline University who also teaches law at the University of Minnesota.

“It remains relevant as a provision that can be used to maintain transparency and accountability,” he says.

But is it being used?

That depends on the state. In Minnesota, Schultz says, the single-subject rule has been “de facto dead” for a quarter-century. However, two closely watched cases in the Midwest in 2023 were based on claims that state legislatures had violated the single-subject rule — one, a challenge to a new law on abortion and gender-affirming care in Nebraska; and the second, a Supreme Court ruling in North Dakota that struck down an omnibus bill (mostly) on state government operations and spending.

Nebraska’s ‘Christmas tree’ session, single-subject case

The lawsuit in Nebraska was filed near the end of an unusual 2023 session in that state. First, there was an extended filibuster from opponents of proposals to outlaw most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy and to ban gender-transition surgeries for individuals 18 and under. The response to this filibuster, and its delaying of action on other measures, was for legislators to adopt a “Christmas tree” approach: package provisions from different bills into larger, omnibus bills.

Nebraska’s LB 574 was amended during session to pair the prohibitions on abortion and transgender care (they originally were separate bills); after being signed into law, this measure was challenged over this constitutional language in Nebraska:

“No bill shall contain more than one subject.”

In August, a state District Court upheld the Legislature’s actions, saying the two provisions in LB 574 “relate to health care.” The court also noted that Nebraska’s judicial branch has historically been “circumspect about acting as a super-parliamentarian.” On the single-subject rule, this has meant that so long as a bill’s provisions fall under some “general object” (health care, in this instance), the measure gets upheld.

Court decision in North Dakota necessitates special session

Near the end of their 2023 regular session, North Dakota legislators passed SB 2015, which funded certain operations in state government but also changed composition of the North Dakota Public Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees. The number of members was changed from nine to 11, and the number of legislators on it was increased from two to four.

The board challenged this legislative action on several grounds, including violation of North Dakota’s single-subject rule:

“No bill may embrace more than one subject, which must be expressed in its title.”

In fall 2023, the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that SB 2015 violated this rule by embracing “multiple distinct subjects extraneous and not germane to even the impermissibly broad topic of state government operations” — grants for public broadcasting, fertilizer-development incentives, penalties for drug trafficking that lead to injury or death, etc.

The justices noted, too, that the legislature had earlier in the session voted down a stand-alone measure seeking a change in composition of the retirement board.

The court’s decision struck down SB 2015 in its entirety. To avoid a shutdown of the government services funded in the bill, legislators came back to Bismarck for an October special session, during which they approved 14 separate measures, including one changing composition of the retirement board.

North Dakota Rep. Claire Cory says the court’s decision caught her and other lawmakers by surprise because seemingly similar Office of Management and Budget bills had been passed in previous sessions.

“My first session [in office], it was fine; in other sessions, it was fine,” she notes. “This time, it was not.”

The difference was that this year’s measure prompted a legal challenge, namely because of the changes to the retirement board.

‘Good idea in principle … Hard to operationalize’

According to Columbia Law School professor Richard Briffault, courts, on balance, have shown deference to legislatures and often rejected lawsuits based on the single-subject rule. However, there have been notable exceptions, including decisions in recent decades that invalidated state laws on guns, abortion, tort reform and immigration.

“The ultimate problem is the lack of definition of ‘single subject,’ “Briffault says. “Courts can read that word ‘subject’ broadly or they can read it narrowly. There is no real guidance on this, and it’s not clear to me how there really could be.

“Where that leaves us is a good idea in principle, but one that is so hard to operationalize, and may turn out to backfire in practice.”

One potential problem, he adds, is that it leaves open the possibility of “outcome-driven decisions” by judges — overturn a legislative action they don’t like by applying a narrow interpretation of “single subject,” or uphold a law by taking a broader view.

Second, the functioning of legislatures may suffer under a narrowly interpreted single-subject rule.

“As we see with the increasing difficulties of Congress getting anything done, we want to make sure there is some room for compromise,” Briffault says. “Part of that may involve stapling unrelated things together to get a majority to get things through. It may be the way deals have to get done.”

‘Not fair to voters’

Though every state in the Midwest has “single subject” constitutional language, it doesn’t necessarily apply to citizen-initiated ballot measures (see map).

Cory says this can create a dilemma for voters when they are asked to decide the fate of one proposal with multiple, unrelated provisions in it. The North Dakota legislator points to a proposed constitutional amendment from 2020 in her home state as a case in point. It called for North Dakota to adopt ranked-choice voting as well as an independent redistricting commission. Also in that same measure was language to improve the overseas voting process for members of the military.

The amendment never made it to state ballots (it was blocked by the courts for a reason other than single subject), but Cory believes it’s an example of the potential problem of having distinct policy changes being included in a single ballot initiative: A person may have supported more help for overseas voters, for example, but not wanted ranked-choice voting.

“We’ve seen ballot initiatives with multiple subjects that would change the [North Dakota] Constitution in several ways, but then supporters campaign on just one aspect of it,” Cory says. “That’s not fair to voters.”

This year, she served as one of the co-sponsors of a measure that would, in part, apply the single-subject rule to citizen-initiated ballot measures in North Dakota. SCR 4013 will go before voters in November 2024.

In states where the single-subject rule does apply to both legislative actions and citizen-initiated measures, one question for the courts is whether the same standard should apply. Three years ago, a proposal to legalize medical cannabis in Nebraska was kept off ballots by the state Supreme Court on the grounds that it violated the single-subject rule by including sections on cultivation, use, possession, health insurance and more.

Judges in that state have said that a stricter single-subject standard should be applied to citizen-initiated ballot measures than to bills coming out of the Unicameral Legislature.

Columbia Law School Professor Richard Briffault says it makes sense to have such a varying standard.

“The case [for single subject] is stronger with ballot propositions, and that’s because ballot propositions aren’t amendable by the voters, whereas with legislatures, provisions always can be taken out.”

Capital Closeup is an ongoing series of articles from CSG Midwest that focus on institutional issues in state governments and legislatures.

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