Friday, July 22, 2005

“We want a tough bill. We made it really strong. They wanted to take things off.”

Eminent domain bills refiled in Legislature

July 22, 2005

From staff reports
Kerrville Daily Times
Copyright 2005

State Rep. Frank J. Corte Jr. of San Antonio re-filed two linked bills on Thursday to provide private property owners protection from eminent domain actions for the purposes of economic development.

In the final days of the first special session, the bills geared toward protecting property owners died due to disagreements in the various measures.

Kerrville state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran said Wednesday evening that House Representatives will fight to ensure a strong bill opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s eminent domain decision allowing land to be seized for economic purposes will be opposed.

Speaking from Austin shortly before the conclusion of the first special session, Hilderbran said the Texas Senate had wanted a “watered-down” version of the legislation that passed the House.

“We want a tough bill,” he said. “We made it really strong. They wanted to take things off.”

House representatives rejected a Senate committee’s rewrite of the original House Combine Resolution. With the failure of the Legislature to reach agreement on school financing, Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session, which will provide an opportunity for some other legislation to be considered further.

If Texas approves a measure, it will join at least eight other states — Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, South Carolina and Washington — which already have laws forbidding such seizures of property.

The High Court placed the duty to decide on the individual government bodies. Texas legislators say they are reacting to protect residents and considering bills to bar the taking of private property solely for economic development.

“Texas property owners have spoken loud and clear on this issue and hopefully this second time will be a charm,” said Corte in a statement made after filing the bills Thursday. “Both bodies of the Legislature, the governor and the people of Texas all agree that the Texas legislators need to act immediately. I will continue this push.”

“HJR 11 and HB 12 will put broad protections into the State Constitution and will further define the issue to clarify the specifics of implementation,” he said.

“These bills are two of the first proposals filed this session, and I will also urge the governor to add this issue to the call again to ensure that meaningful legislation is passed,” Corte said. “We were caught off guard last month by the Supreme Court and that slowed down the process, but legislators have now had time to study exactly what is needed in Texas law and I think we can get something passed over the next 30 days.”

© 2005 Kerrville Daily Times: