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Dreaded RAVE Act Returns

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the RAVE Act – Sen. Biden’s grab at civil liberties and attention – has reared its ugly head again. The Electronic Music Defense and Education Fund objects strenuously:

    Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) is at this very moment attempting to sneak the RAVE Act into conference committee on the National AMBER Alert Network Act of 2003 (S.151). S.151 is a popular bill about child abduction and has nothing to do with drug issues. S.151 has already been passed by the Senate and House and is now in Conference. In contrast, the RAVE Act has not passed even one single committee this year. It did pass a committee last year, but was so controversial two Senators withdrew their sponsorship after the vote.

    This means that if the RAVE Act passes the conference committee, it is likely to become law without ever having a hearing, a debate or a vote.

    Drug Policy Alliance has been told that Senator Biden has told other conference committee members, incorrectly, that the ACLU is no longer in opposition to the action. He also has told conferees that nightclub owners now support him (on the basis of one group that switched sides). If the act makes it into the conference language it is likely to become law. It must be stopped now.

    PHONE YOUR SENATORS and Conference Committee Members (Background information below). DO IT NOW. If you do not respond to this alert, the controversial RAVE Act is likely to become law and it will be much harder to fix.

Here is background info on the matter:

    BACKGROUND INFORMATION

    Congress is considering two pieces of legislation that could create disincentives for club owners to have water, ambulances and paramedics available at large dance events. The bills might also threaten live music and dancing. If enacted, either bill could prevent you from hearing your favorite band or DJ live. Every musical style would be affected, including rock and roll, Hip Hop, country, and electronic music. The proposed laws could also shut down hemp festivals, circuit parties, and other events government officials don’t like. Both bills would allow overzealous prosecutors to send innocent people to jail for the crimes of others.

    The two bills are the RAVE Act (H.R. 718) and the CLEAN-UP Act (H.R. 834). The RAVE Act was first introduced last year in the Senate by Senator Joe Biden (D-DE). A House version was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). Thanks to the support of thousands of voters like you, Drug Policy Alliance and a coalition of friends and activists around the country was able to stop both bills last year. Unfortunately, supporters of the RAVE Act are even more determined to pass it this year. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) is sponsoring a new RAVE Act in the House. Additionally, Senator Biden has introduced a Senate version entitled the Illicit Drugs Anti-Proliferation Act.

    If enacted, the RAVE Act would make it easier for the federal government to punish property owners for any drug offense that their customers commit – even if they work hard to stop such offenses. If enacted, nightclub and stadium owners would likely stop holding events – such as rock or Hip Hop concerts – in which even one person might use drugs.

    The CLEAN-UP Act was also first introduced last year, but it failed to make it out of committee. This year’s bill has over 60 co-sponsors and could become law without your help. Sponsored by Rep. Doug Ose (R- CA), the Clean, Learn, Educate, Abolish, and Undermine Production (CLEAN-UP) of Methamphetamines Act is largely an innocuous bill that provides more money and training for the clean up of illegal methamphetamine lab. Hidden within the bill, however, is a draconian section that could make dancing and live music federal crimes.

    Section 305 of the CLEAN-UP Act stipulates that:

    `Whoever, for a commercial purpose, knowingly promotes any rave, dance, music, or other entertainment event, that takes place under circumstances where the promoter knows or reasonably ought to know that a controlled substance will be used or distributed in violation of Federal law or the law of the place where the event is held, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned for not more than 9 years, or both.’

    This provision will allow any concert promoter, event organizer, nightclub owner and arena or stadium owner to be fined and jailed, since a reasonable person would know some people use drugs at musical events.

    Under both the RAVE Act and the CLEAN-UP Act, it doesn’t matter if the event promoter and property owner try to prevent people from using drugs. Nor does it matter if the vast majority of people attending the event are law-abiding citizens that want to listen to music not do drugs. If enacted, either bill could be used to shut down raves, circuit parties, marijuana rallies, unpopular music concerts, and any other event federal officials don’t like.

EM:DEF recommends this action:

    #1. The following Members of Congress are on the conference committee. They need to hear from you IF AND ONLY IF you live in their district. Please be polite. Just tell them that you oppose the RAVE Act, that it is controversial and it should not be included in the conference language of S151. Don’t stay on the phone long. Ask as many people as you can to call them.

    HOUSE:
    James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) – 202/225-5101
    Howard Coble (R-NC) – 202/225-3065
    Lamar Smith (R-TX) – 202/225-4236
    Mark Green (R-WI)- 202/225-5665
    Melissa Hart (R-PA)- 202/225-2565
    John Conyers (D-MI) – 202/225-5126
    Bobby Scott (D-VA) – 202/225-8351

    SENATE:
    Orrin Hatch (R-UT) – 202/224-5251
    Charles Grassley (R-IA) – 202/224-3744
    Jeff Sessions (R-AL) – 202/224-4124
    Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – 202/224-5972
    Patrick Leahy (D-VT) – 202/224-4242
    Ted Kennedy (D-MA) – 202/224-4543
    Joseph Biden (D-DE) – 202/224-5042

    #2. Everyone in the U.S. – You have two Senators who can weigh in on this issue with the conference committee members.

    Please call your Senators at the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121

    A list of your Senators by state can be found at http://emdef.org/list-senate

    Tell them that the RAVE Act is very controversial. Senator Biden is holding up the AMBER Act by placing controversial bill in conference. Urge them to oppose the RAVE Act by contacting the Senate conference committee members and asking them to leave it off the measure so that there will at least be a hearing on this issue.

Get on it – this is heedless infringement upon civil liberties, and sneaky as well. Democrat Biden is just as great a threat as REpublican Attorney General John Ashcroft – respond accordingly.

The ACLU is equally alarmed:

    In the final days before a long Congressional recess, members of the House and Senate are seeking to override normal legislative processes by dumping two pieces of dangerous, anti-civil liberties legislation into an unrelated but more popular bill. One of the two provisions would target raves — a social event that mixes electronic music, light shows and dancing; the other provision would seek to limit the discretion of federal judges.

    In fact, both provisions seek to intimidate through legislative fiat. The measure that targets raves would allow prosecutors to argue that common rave items like glow sticks and massage oils are drug paraphernalia and would impose huge fines and even prison time on owners of venues into which customers bring controlled substances. No matter how much security is put in place, owners could be held responsible for the actions of just one customer and would therefore be much less likely to allow raves to take place in their clubs or concert halls

    ….The anti-rave act threatens free speech.
    If it becomes law, property owners may be too afraid to rent or lease their space for events rightly or wrongly perceived as attracting drug users — essentially any event that attracts a young crowd. Out of fear of massive fines and prison sentences, law-abiding business owners may stop hosting raves and other musical events, driving them further underground and away from public health and safety regulations.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    Thanks a lot for the alert, Eric.

    I called the offices of Senators Boxer and Feinstein and registered my opinion. Neither has made an official statement on the RAVE Act or its attachment to the AMBER Act.

    And you’re right, er, correct–Republican politicians do not have a monopoly on curbing civil liberties. Democrat Howard Berman is also distinguishing himself nicely in this area.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    But to give the Republicans equal time:

    Republicans Want Terror Law Made Permanent