Overstreet gets hearing on bill to block federal detentions, but his federal land seizure bill gets no traction
By John Stark
State Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Blaine, has introduced legislation that would make it a felony for state or local officials to cooperate with the U.S. armed forces in the investigation or detention of citizens and legal residents.
(Overstreet is also one of four sponsors of H.B. 1111, which pushes the state to sell off its lands “not being actively used for forestry.” But it doesn’t stop there: It also authorizes the state to acquire “forested” federal lands by condemnation, and then sell them to the highest bidder. Would that include national parks? The bill doesn’t say yes and it doesn’t say no. Overstreet has not responded to requests for comment on this bill, and in any event it appears dead.
Even if the state were to enact such a bill, University of Washington law professor Robert Anderson says it would not be effective in getting control of federal lands. During the Sagebrush Rebellion years, Nevada did pass a similar law attempting to wrest control of federal holdings within that state, but the law was struck down by the federal courts. There is no legal foundation for state confiscation of federal lands, Anderson said.)
But back to the detention bill, H.B. 1581. It got a hearing before a House committee Thursday, Feb. 21, but appears unlikely to come to a vote, according to a press release from House Republicans. Here is the text of the bill, which was co-sponsored by State Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, and several others. Here is a summary.
In the press release, Overstreet says the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act violates the right to due process.
“Washingtonians are guaranteed the right of due process in both the U.S. and Washington State Constitutions,” Overstreet said. “Upon signing the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the President tacitly acknowledged that he now has the ability to deny this right through indefinite detention, but in his signing statement promised us he will not exercise it. The U.S. Congress and President have overstepped their constitutional authority. The Washington State Preservation of Liberty Act seeks to preserve the rights of Washingtonians so brazenly tossed aside by Washington D.C.”
The National Defense Authorization Act got bipartisan supp0rt when it was passed by Congress, according to this tally by Project VoteSmart. But in recent months, there has also been bipartisan concern about encroachment on civil liberties in the fight against terrorists, although that concern is focused more on drone strikes than on detention policies.