OpenMarket.org has a troublesome article about the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. This reminded me of the lead in toys bill that passed recently. It seemingly has such broad language that all kinds of unsuspecting people could become unintentional criminals. If I understand it right, this bill would give government officials the right to confiscate your car and other property until you are found innocent. And what would be the "crime" that you would be accused of? Picking up rocks and keeping them. I know, I know. It is scary stuff. Here is a quote from OpenMarket.
According to Tracie Bennitt, president of the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences, the bill’s language is so vague and the penalties such as forfeiture so severe that it could allow the government to “put scientists in jail and confiscate university vans.”
Among the problems, critics explain, is that the language is so broad that merely picking up rocks under this bill could be found guilty of “excavating” or “removing” a “paleontological resource.” There are numerous rocks, stones, and other objects of nature that contain fossilized imprints and, in the bill’s language, “are of paleontological interest and that provide information about the history of life on earth.” In fact, it is likely the most rocks that people pick up would meet this definition.
One of those consequences is the civil forfeiture provision in Section 6308, which would leave those accused without their cars or other property until the trial was completed — basically the property would be guilty until proven innocent.
This craziness has already passed the Senate as S 22. Call, e-mail, or fax your Rep. before Wednesday and tell them to vote no.
Stuff like this makes me think we should limit the length of laws to a readable amount. Seriously, who could think this is a good idea if they actually read it.