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Tag: legislation

DOJ Drafts Proposal to Expedite Death Penalty for Convicted Mass Shooters

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

People convicted of carrying out mass shootings would face an expedited path to the death penalty under legislated drafted by the Justice Department.

The bill follows the DOJ’s announcement in July that it would begin capital punishment again for the first time in two decades.

The proposal was drafted Attorney General William Barr with the help of Vice President Mike Pence’s policy team, CBS News reports, citing VP Chief of Staff Mark Short.

The proposal is likely part of a White House package of gun safety proposals.

Last month, President Trump advocated an expedited death penalty for convicted mass shooters. But Trump’s position on gun control measures has been in constant flux and impossible to pin down.

GOP Senator Drafts Bill to Make Domestic Terrorism a Federal Crime

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., has drafted a bill to make domestic terrorism a federal crime as experts continue to warn about a rise in white supremacy-fueled violence.

The Air Force veteran said her legislation would close a loophole that bars federal authorities from charging suspects with domestic terrorism.

“For too long we have allowed those who commit heinous acts of domestic terrorism to be charged with related crimes that don’t portray the full scope of their hateful actions,” McSally told Politico.

“That stops with my bill,” she added. “The bill I am introducing will give federal law enforcement the tools they have asked for so that they can punish criminals to the fullest extent of the law.”

McSally’s actions follow the FBI’s new warning about domestic terrorism threats after the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

According to the bill, “violent extremists could become inspired by these and previous high-profile attacks to engage in similar acts of violence.”

The FBI defines domestic terror as acts of violence “perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with primarily U.S.-based movements that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.”

Federal Incentives for Seizing Assets Encourages ‘Policing for Profit’

frozen-cash2By Editorial Board
Sentinel & Enterprise

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan have introduced legislation to reform civil asset forfeiture, a practice by which law enforcement agencies seize the property and assets of individuals with minimal due process.

The practice has encouraged “policing for profit,” distorting the mission of police agencies toward revenue generation to the detriment of the property rights of Americans. Paul’s and Walberg’s bill should unite those concerned with upholding constitutional rights and justice more broadly.

The FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, previously introduced by Paul in 2014, seeks to shore up the rights of Americans facing civil asset forfeiture proceedings and curb the perverse profit incentives that underline the practice.

“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime,” said Paul. “The FAIR Act will protect Americans’ Fifth Amendment rights from being infringed upon by ensuring that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process.”

Under current practices, federal agencies, often in partnership with state and local police departments, may seize a person’s cash, home or vehicle simply upon the suspicion that such assets were connected to criminal activity. One need not even be charged or convicted of a crime to have personal assets permanently seized.

All the government needs to do is meet the relatively low standard of a preponderance of the evidence to prevail in court — while innocent owners have the burden of trying to prove their innocence and bearing the costs of legally opposing government authorities.

This has created a situation where the federal government has seized billions of dollars in assets under questionable circumstances. According to the Institute for Justice, from 2001 to 2014, the forfeiture funds of the Department of Justice and Treasury Department took in nearly $29 billion. This provides financial incentive to both federal agencies and state and local partners, who get a cut of the money through “equitable sharing,” to increasingly focus on cases with revenue-generating potential.

To read more click here.  

Senators Introduce Bill Aimed at Increasing Number of Border Patrol Agents

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake and Heidi Heitkamp introduced legislation aimed at increasing the number of Border Patrol agents at ports of entry.

The legislation, the Customs and Border Protection and Hiring Retention Act, is deigned to eliminate recruitment obstacles and help retain agents, the Republican and Democrat said in a press release

“Arizona can’t afford for its ports to go on strained and understaffed,” Flake, R-Ariz., said in the release. “By tackling CBP’s hiring problems head-on, this bill will help strengthen border security and facilitate the cross-border trade that is critical to Arizona’s economy.”

The senators said Border Patrol is short of about 1,000 agents.

The legislation would provide incentives for Border Patrol agents to stay on the job and not go to other agencies.

“In my visits with border security officials and personnel in Portal last month and Pembina last year, a key concern I heard over and over from agents on the ground was about their abilities to both attract and retain quality workers to best protect our communities – and it’s those challenges that our bipartisan bill would work to address. This effort expands on my work in the U.S. Senate to make it easier to hire and retain federal employees, like border patrol agents, at remote locations such as at the Northern Border. And my bipartisan bill to assess threats to the Northern Border and examine employee recruitment and retention issues is expected to soon be signed into law. Our border patrol agents work to keep our borders protected, and they need to have the resources and support to keep our communities safe,” said Heitkamp, D-N.D.

Other Stories of Interest

Lawmakers Consider Proposal to Require Lyft, Uber to Undergo FBI Background Checks

uberBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Some lawmakers are considering a proposal that would require drivers of ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft to undergo FBI background checks.

Taxi companies, which have been hit hard by the lower prices of Uber and Lyft, said they are subject to FBI background checks and so should drivers for ride-sharing services, the Las Vegas Sun reports. 

Supporters of the ride-sharing services say background checks are a nonstarter and intended to bump Uber and Lyft off the roads.

“There’s a lot of interest in the background check because of public safety,” said John Mowbray, a lawyer who represents Frias Transportation Management, which operates one of Las Vegas’ largest cab companies.

Left and Uber are not fans of FBI checks because they are costly and can months to process. The companies, instead, rely on commercial background checks.

Other Stories of Interest

Senator Delays Bill to Allow FBI to Obtain Internet Records without a Warrant

congress copyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A bill that would expand the FBI’s authority to use secret surveillance to obtain some Internet records was held up because of privacy concerns.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., placed a hold on the Intelligence Authorization Act, saying it would lead to a “dramatic erosion” of privacy rights, Reuters reports. 

A provision in the legislation would allow the FBI to hand over certain Internet records using national security letter, which do not require a warrant.

“Convenience alone does not justify such a dramatic erosion of Americans’ constitutional rights,” Wyden said on the Senate floor.

Senate Rejects Legislation to Allow FBI to Search Internet Records without Warrant

computer-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Senate rejected a measure Wednesday that would allow the FBI to search e-mail records and Internet browsing histories of Americans without a warrant.

The USA Today reports the Senate was two votes short of the 60 needed to pass the legislation. The final vote was 58-38.

Last week, the House rejected legislation to ban warrantless surveillance of Americans’ electronic communications.

“In the wake of the tragic massacre in Orlando, it is important our law enforcement have the tools they need to conduct counterterrorism investigations and track ‘lone wolves,’ or (Islamic State)-inspired terrorists who do not have direct connections to foreign terrorist organizations but who seek to harm Americans,” Sen. John McCain said.

But Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the bill “won’t make our country safer, but it will take away crucial checks and balances that protect our freedom.”

“FBI agents will be able to demand the records of what websites you look at online, who you email and chat with, and your text message logs, with no judicial oversight whatsoever,” Wyden said. “The reality is the FBI already has the power to demand these electronic records with a court order under the Patriot Act. In emergencies, the FBI can even obtain the records right away and go to a judge after the fact. This isn’t about giving law-enforcement new tools, it’s about the FBI not wanting to do paperwork.”

Senate Report Cites ‘Inferior’ Whistleblower Protections for FBI Agents

whistleBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has a habit of punishing its own whistleblowers.

That may change soon under the proposed FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, the Washington Post reports. 

“Whistleblowers play a critical role in keeping our government efficient and honest, yet they also risk retaliation from their employers, sometimes being demoted, reassigned, or fired as a result of their actions,” says a report issued in support of the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.

The legislation would strengthen protections for whistleblowers who expose fraud, waste and abuse.

It also would allow employees to report abuses to their own supervisors.

“This has left protections for FBI whistleblowers inferior to those of other Executive Branch employees …” the report said. “Unlike all other Executive Branch employees, including employees in the intelligence community. … FBI employees enjoy no legal protection for making reports of wrongdoing to supervisors or others in their chain of command.”