Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Dewhurst: Lawmakers will continue to study the issue to see if any changes must be made in the 2007 legislative session.

Senate adopts eminent domain measure, sends bill to governor

By JIM VERTUNO / Associated Press
Copyright 2005

The government's power to take private property for economic development would be limited under a bill approved Tuesday by the Senate and sent to Gov. Rick Perry for his consideration.
Perry had added the property seizure issue to the call of the special session last week, urging lawmakers to protect Texans' private property. The Senate's 17-6 vote of approval came as any hope of passing a school finance measure appeared to have faded for good.

The Republican Perry, who usually reserves comment on a bill until he's ready to sign into law or veto, praised this one.

"I applaud members of the Legislature for passing a bill that ensures government cannot seize private property simply to generate more tax revenue," Perry said. "This bill provides common sense protection for every private property owner."

The bill was filed in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that let governments take land for private development to generate tax money, prompting worries that local governments would seize homes and turn the property over to developers. Texas is one of at least 25 states that have considered changes to eminent domain laws this summer.

Under the Constitution, governments cannot take private property for public use without "just compensation." Governments have traditionally used their eminent domain authority to build roads, reservoirs and other public projects. But for decades, the court has expanded the definition of public use, allowing cities to employ eminent domain to eliminate blight.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that New London, Conn., could take homes for a private development project. But the ruling also allowed states to ban that practice.

Even with Tuesday's vote, Republican Gov. David Dewhurst said lawmakers would continue to study the issue to see if any changes must be made in the 2007 legislative session.

The eminent domain bill is SB7
The Associated Press: www.ap.org