Bill Text: NH HB420 | 2021 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Relative to the use of funds in the drug forfeiture fund.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 4-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2021-02-24 - Reconsider (Rep. T. Smith): Motion Failed DV 164-184 02/24/2021 [HB420 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2021-HB420-Introduced.html

HB 420-FN - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2021 SESSION

21-0336

04/05

 

HOUSE BILL 420-FN

 

AN ACT relative to the use of funds in the drug forfeiture fund.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Spillane, Rock. 2; Rep. Verville, Rock. 2; Rep. Burt, Hills. 39; Sen. Reagan, Dist 17

 

COMMITTEE: Judiciary

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill amends the administration and distribution of funds in the drug forfeiture fund and permits such funds to be used for the establishment of substance misuse addiction, recovery, or rehabilitation centers, programs, or services.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

21-0336

04/05

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty One

 

AN ACT relative to the use of funds in the drug forfeiture fund.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  New Subparagraph; Controlled Drug Act; Forfeiture of Items Used in Connection With Drug Offense.  Amend RSA 318-B:17-b, I by inserting after subparagraph (e) the following new subparagraph:

(f)  U.S. currency or coin in the amount of $200 or less and a motor vehicle with a market value of $1,500 or less shall be exempt from seizure or forfeiture under this section.  The prosecuting authority may establish a minimum dollar amount in excess of the minimums stated in this subparagraph.

2  Controlled Drug Act; Forfeiture of Items Used in Connections With Drug Offense  RSA 318-B:17-b, V is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

V.  Final orders for forfeiture of property under this section shall be implemented by the department of justice and shall provide for disposition of the items or property interests by the state in any manner not prohibited by law, including retention for official use by law enforcement or other public agencies or sale at public auction.

(a)  From the funds available in the drug forfeiture fund established in RSA 318-B:17-c, the department of justice shall, in the following order:

(1)  Pay the reasonable expenses of the forfeiture proceeding, seizure, storage, maintenance of custody, advertising, court costs, and notice of sale from any money forfeited and from the proceeds of any sale or public auction of forfeited items,   All outstanding recorded liens on said items or property interests seized shall be paid in full upon conclusion of the court proceedings from the proceeds of any sale or public auction of forfeited items; and

(2)  Reimburse all direct costs incurred in the arrest and prosecution of a person for a criminal violation of this chapter on a case by case basis, including the reasonable cost for towing a forfeited vehicle, and the non-personnel operating costs directly related to the investigation of the underlying criminal offense including any funds used in a controlled drug buy.  To be reimbursed, a municipality or law enforcement agency shall provide documentation to the department of justice of such direct costs incurred.

(b)  Each fiscal year, 10 percent of the balance remaining in the drug forfeiture fund after the expenditures required under subparagraph (a), shall be credited to a special nonlapsing account established in the state treasury for use by the department of health and human services for the purposes established in RSA 318-B:17-c.

(c)  Any balance remaining in the drug forfeiture fund shall be administered by the department of health and human services pursuant to the provisions of RSA 318-B:17-c.

3  Controlled Drug Act; Drug Forfeiture Fund.  Amend RSA 318-B:17-c, I to read as follows:

I.  There is hereby established within the [office of the] state [treasurer] treasury a special revolving fund to be designated as the drug forfeiture fund.  This fund shall be administered by the [attorney general] department of health and human services and may be used to [pay] reimburse the direct costs [of] to local, county, or state officials incurred by an offender resulting from arrest and prosecution in local, county and state drug related investigations[, as well as drug control law enforcement programs within New Hampshire].  The fund may also be used [to pay extraordinary costs of local, county and state drug prosecutions and trial expenses] for drug treatment, mental health treatment, rehabilitation, prevention or education, or any other program which deters drug or substance misuse or responds to problems created by drugs or substance misuse; for matching funds for grant programs related to drug treatment or prevention; and for any combination of these purposes.

4  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

LBA

21-0336

1/6/21

 

HB 420-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT relative to the use of funds in the drug forfeiture fund.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [    ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

FY 2024

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [ X ] Other - Drug Forfeiture Fund

 

 

 

 

 

COUNTY:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

 

 

 

 

 

LOCAL:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill amends the administration and distribution of funds in the drug forfeiture fund and permits such funds to be used for the establishment of substance misuse addiction, recovery, or rehabilitation centers, programs, or services.

 

The Department of Justice indicates this bill first permits the Department use forfeited funds from drug offenses to reimburse itself for the actual costs of the forfeiture proceeding and other related expenses, such as advertising and payment of liens, it then permits the reimbursement of the local law enforcement agency and prosecuting agency for the actual costs of the criminal investigation and prosecution.  The balance of funds are then placed in the drug forfeiture fund.   The bill also transfers control over the drug forfeiture fund from the Attorney General to Department of Health and Human Services.  It limits use of those funds to reimburse local, county, and state officials for costs arising from arrest or prosecution of drug-related investigations.  The bill also allows funds to be used for programs designed to prevent drug use or treat substance abuse disorders.  The Department reports under current law the distribution is as follows:

  • The first $100,000 of forfeited funds goes into the recently created “police psychological stability screening fund.”
  • Of the next $500,000:
    •  45% of the first is returned to the fiscal officer or officers of the municipal, county, state, or federal government which provided the law enforcement agency or agencies responsible for the seizure;
    • 10% is deposited into a special nonlapsing account established within the office of the state treasurer for the Department of Health and Human Services;  
    • 45% is deposited in the revolving drug forfeiture fund;
    • Of any funds in excess of $500,000:
      • 10% is deposited into a special nonlapsing account established within the office of the state treasurer for the Department of Health and Human Services and;
      •  90% is deposited in the revolving drug forfeiture fund.

The bill would repeal the recent establishment of  “police psychological stability screening fund.”

 

The Department indicates in FY 2020, drug forfeitures totaled $121,005.  From those funds, the Department of Health and Human Services received $17,244, municipalities received $51,534 and the Drug Task Force received $52,227.  All of those funds were used to support Drug Task Force operations through Drug Task Force teams to reduce and confiscate illegal drugs throughout the state.

 

The Department states the proposed provision that prohibits initiating a forfeiture action against currency valued at $200 or less and vehicles with a market value of $1,500 or less would have no fiscal impact because, under current practices, the Department does not bring forfeiture actions against currency or motor vehicles of such low value.  The Department states it is uncertain what the costs would be to investigate and prosecute drug-related charges, therefore the overall fiscal impact of the bill is indeterminable.  Based on a five year average, $179,922 is received for the Drug Task Force.  The remaining funds are distributed pursuant to statute.  

 

The Department of Health and Human Services currently has a drug forfeiture fund account under the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services used for the surveillance of the sale of tobacco and alcohol to minors across the state.  The Bureau could expand programming around substance misuse and addiction prevention, intervention and treatment services if the proposed changes provided additional revenue in this account, but the potential increase in revenue is  indeterminable.  The Department states expansion of the reimbursable activities would necessitate an additional staff person to manage the fund.  The Department assumes the position would be a Business Administrator II at a labor grade 24 at an estimated costs of  $82,000 in FY 2022, $84,000 in FY 2023 and $87,000 in FY 2024.  The Department expects the bill would have an indeterminable impact on state, county and local expenditures.  

 

It is assumed any fiscal impact would occur after July 1, 2021.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services

 

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