Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Eminent domain has become too easy in Texas."


Eminent domain reform means growth for Texas


Kenneth Dierschke, Texas Farm Bureau President
Amarillo Globe-News
Copyright 2007

SAN ANGELO - Texas continues to be one of the fastest growing states in the nation. There was an explosion of growth in the 1990s, and in the 21st century, the mass influx of people continues, spawning more businesses and increasing the need for state and local services.

More than 40 percent of the entire nation's investment capital came to Texas in 2006. This growth brings with it increased demand on water, utilities, schools and transportation. It is necessary growth that comes with the expansion of the population.

Obviously, there are those who oppose this growth, who would prefer to build a fence around our state to "keep the rascals out." This is not a realistic approach to address the future of Texas, and fortunately, our leaders have recognized its futility.

Fortunately, the Legislature has provided a balance on our growth vs. protections for those who have called Texas home for many years. That balance has taken the form of the eminent domain bill that passed the Legislature in the final days of the session. Its passage provides Texas with one of the strongest property rights protections in the nation.

House Bill 2006, sponsored by Rep. Beverly Woolley and Sen. Kyle Janek, both Republicans from Houston, assures that property owners will be adequately compensated when a governing entity seeks to take their property for public purposes. HB 2006 requires a condemning entity to make a "good faith offer" prior to condemnation and provides incentives to the condemning entity to do so.

It also provides for compensation to the property owner when the entity does damage to the property.

HB 2006 allows us to welcome with open arms those new Texans who bring with them the increased need for services, but lets us "natives" remain whole when we make necessary sacrifices for our neighbors.

Future legislatures can address any problems created by HB 2006, but right now, it's hard to see what those might be.

Eminent domain has become too easy in Texas. It always was intended to be a last resort. HB 2006 restores that original intent.

For now, Gov. Perry, show the people of the state of Texas your property rights roots, and sign HB 2006.

Kenneth Dierschke is a grain and cotton farmer from San Angelo and president of the Texas Farm Bureau.

© 2007 Amarillo Globe-News: www.amarillo.com

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