Democrats Halt Meth Bill 

Democrats Halt Meth Bill 
Posted by FoM on July 19, 2000 at 19:54:36 PT
By Nicholas Morehead 
Source: Wired Magazine
House Democrats blocked a controversial drug-censorship bill from being approved by the Judiciary committee on Wednesday. H.R. 2987, also known as the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act of 1999, was scheduled for a full-committee markup Wednesday but was postponed due to Democratic concerns over proposed amendments which came as a surprise to Democrats on the committee. 
Rep. Robert Scott (D-Va.) chided Republicans on the committee, arguing that amendments proposed in a substitute bill Tuesday night by Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fl.) significantly changed the bill and that more time was necessary to review them. amendments in question proposed mandatory minimums for those found in violation of the act and included Ecstasy and similar narcotics in a "Club Drug Proliferation" section. "This is a deplorable process. In effect, we've been sandbagged on this bill," Scott said. "We certainly have the right to know what we're marking up. I feel it unfortunate that the majority has chosen to act this way." The bill, supported by law enforcement but opposed by civil liberty and anti-drug-war groups, was already under scrutiny for its potential infringements on certain constitutional rights. The bill as it is written would make it a crime to link to illegal drug-related websites and also give police the power to enter homes to do secret searches. One portion of the bill would make it a crime "to teach or demonstrate the manufacture of a controlled substance." Another section would allow police to surreptitiously enter someone's house with a warrant without telling them about it -- a notification that currently is required by law. "You have all sorts of First Amendment problems with that," Marv Johnson, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, told Wired News in May, when the House bill was first being debated."Nobody knows what part is going to get you in trouble. If you teach someone how to use a Bunsen burner, is this sufficient to get you indicted? Nobody really knows," Johnson said. Proponents of the methamphetamine bill -- the Senate has already unanimously approved a similar measure -- said it's necessary to shut meth labs and combat the illegal drug market. the House version, sponsored by Representative Chris Cannon and 19 other members of Congress, is different from the Senate bill, a conference committee would be necessary to reconcile the two pieces of legislation. To avoid that possibility, some House Judiciary Committee members are considering replacing Cannon's bill with the Senate legislation. The Committee plans to readdress the bill on Tuesday. Have a comment on this article? Send it. E-mail: newsfeedback wired.comRelated Wired Links: Bill Criminalizes Drug Links:,1283,36209,00.htmlReefer Madness Hits Congress:,1283,21152,00.htmlThis is Your Net on Drugs:,1283,4758,00.htmlEverybody's Got Issues in Politics: Anti-Proliferation Act of 1999 Link To Above Article:,1283,37670,00.html Washington, D.C.12:30 p.m. Jul. 19, 2000 PDTCopyright  2000 Wired Digital Inc.Related Articles: Pot Shots Free Speech On the Line Limit
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Comment #1 posted by Dan B on July 19, 2000 at 21:24:42 PT:
The Response from Larry Combest (R-TX)
I received the following letter from Larry Combest concerning the sneak-and-peek measures provided in this bill. I think it is important to know what our elected officials have had to say in response to this, which is why I post it. The letter came as a response to an e-mail I sent through the DRCNet website. Notice that he does not address the free speech issue.Yes, my name is Butterworth. And now you know the rest of the B.   Dear Mr. Butterworth,I have heard from many constituents who have expressed opposition to a provision contained in an anti-methamphetamine bill, and was temporarily contained in the Senate's version of the popular bankruptcy reform bill. The provision in question deals with the way searches and seizures are carried out by federal law enforcement agents. If this provision were enacted into law, federal agents would no longer be required to give notice before conducting a search of a home or business, as they are now required to do in all but a few cases. Nicknamed "sneak and peek," the federal law enforcement agents would be able to enter a person's home, look around and take the evidence they want. What is troubling is that they would not have to give notice that they were in your home or business until 90 days afterwards and would not have to provide an inventory of what was seized. Because the provision is a dangerous infringement on our Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, it has understandably generated a lot of controversy.Ordinarily, the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act is a bill that I would support. Its goal is to fight methamphetamine production by enabling the Drug Enforcement Agency to hire new agents and increases the penalties for this kind of illegal activity. But I will not support the bill until the "sneak and peek" provisions are stripped from the measure. My colleague, Representative Bob Barr, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee has vowed to fight the provision when it comes before the full committee for consideration.While not germane to bankruptcy reform, the "sneak and peek" provision was added to the Senate's version of H.R. 833, the Bankruptcy Reform Act. However, I am happy to report that the provision has since been removed. I wholeheartedly support the bankruptcy reform measure and am glad this unrelated section is gone. The House version of the bankruptcy reform that I supported did not contain this provision.You may be assured that I understand and share your concerns over unconstitutional searches and seizures. While I support law enforcement's efforts to combat drug production and trafficking, the "sneak and peek" provision obviously goes over the line. As Congress continues its work on these two bills, I will have your views on the matter firmly in mind.Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to call on me if I can ever be of assistance.Sincerely,Larry Combest
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