I wrote earlier today about a Senate committee making big changes to HB1221, which people are calling “Andrew’s Law,” and this afternoon those amendments were approved on the House floor and the overall bill was passed.
The legislation was inspired by Andrew Sadek, and aimed to provide some protections in law for criminal informants. Sadek’s parents weren’t happy about the changes.
“My husband and I are frankly appalled to see the obvious gutting of this important legislation,” Tammy Sadek said in a released statement earlier today. “We appreciative the efforts behind this bill and have had high hopes that it would pass in strong form. Unfortunately, the current version of this bill is weak. It is not what it needs to be.”
But in defending the amendments during the floor session today Senator Kelly Armstrong, a Republican from Dickinson who has practiced as a criminal defense attorney, argued that the bill as it emerged from the House “makes it impossible to use” confidential informants.
Armstrong said the amended version of the bill directs the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation “to promulgate rules to be used by all law enforcement officers in the state.” He pointed out that “under current law there are no uniform rules.”
I’ll admit that uniformity would definitely be an improvement over the status quo, but law enforcement up to and including Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who oversees the BCI, have also argued that they did nothing wrong in the Sadek situation.
In fact, the BCI investigated law enforcement’s handling of the Sadek situation, and literally concluded that law enforcement had done nothing wrong. The proponents of HB1221, which passed the House unanimously, want reform. Are we going to get reform by letting people who think nothing needs reformed write the new rules?
That seems unlikely.
Anyway, because the Senate “hog housed” he House bill, the two chambers have to hash out the differences. Armstrong, at least, seems willing to find some compromise ending his floor remarks today saying “get this into conference committee where we can get a good bill put together.”
By the way, I interviewed Tim O’Keefe today on the radio. He’s the attorney for the Sadek family.
“What they did essentially is say we don’t want to do anything new,” O’Keefe told me of the Senate’s version of the bill. Here’s the audio of our interview:
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