More than 30 state legislatures are considering limits on the power of local governments to condemn private property and transfer it to real estate developers to spur economic growth.
Five states enacted small changes last year, but most legislatures were not in session after the court ruling. “This is the crucial year for the eminent domain issue,” says Larry Morandi, who tracks eminent domain legislation for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Bills to restrict eminent domain have moved forward in Georgia, Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky and several other states, but none has become law yet. In New Mexico, the state Senate and House both approved limits, but the Legislature adjourned before final approval.
Some cities have used Eminent Domain to transfer property from unwilling sellers to developers who want to build shopping malls, offices or other projects. This is all in response to a Supreme Court ruling in June, that permitted eminent domain powers to be used in New London, Conn., to confiscate waterfront homes to build an office complex and condominiums. The 5-4 ruling prompted the people to push for States to make laws prohibiting the taking of private property for private economic development.
After the Supreme Court decision, legislatures in Alabama, Texas, Delaware, Michigan and Ohio took modest steps to restrict eminent domain. Michigan approved a constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in November. Ohio approved a one-year moratorium on eminent domain for economic development. Congress also is considering restrictions.
“There’s been an explosion of outrage by people across the country and across the political spectrum about what can be done,” says Scott Bullock of the Institute of Justice, a libertarian public-interest law firm.
Last month, Charlotte-based BB&T, the nation’s ninth-largest bank, announced it would not lend money to developers who used eminent domain to acquire property. The Rhode Island Economic Development Corp., a quasi-public agency headed by the governor, announced it would no longer use eminent domain for economic development.
The people are not going to stand for this! And Now, the communist point of view…
Donald Borut, executive director of the National League of Cities, says state legislatures should not rush to judgment about eminent domain laws. He says careful study would show that eminent domain abuses are rare. “We all feel sympathetic for someone who is losing a home,” he says. “But we also have to consider the faces of people of all income levels who benefit from the job creation these projects bring.”
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few; thank you Spock. We value private property rights above all things in this country. It is one of the things that makes us a great nation. It is MY property and keep your grubby little mitts off it!
We need a private property rights movement in this country to stop this and reform property taxes in this country. It is not right for someone to be taxed out of their property. But it is for education, for the children, Communists. It is not my responsibility to educate your brats, keep your hands out of my pockets.