Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gov. Rick Perry runs from his abysmal record on property rights

Perry 'fixes' his property-rights problem


Wayne Slater
The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2009

With a Kay Bailey Hutchison challenge in the wings, Rick Perry moves today to fix a weakness in his resume - private property rights.

Two years ago, the Republican governor vetoed an eminent domain bill that would have given more protection to private property owners. It caused a firestorm. Property rights is the holy grail of the conservative moment. Hutchison plans to use private property rights against him in her race to unseat him.

To repair the damage, Perry is throwing his support behind an amendment to the state constitution to strengthen private property rights. He supports forbidding government from taking private property for development to help another private interest.

Perry's 2007 veto pitted him against two competing interests dear to his election fortunes - conservative landowners he claims as ideological soul mates and anti-lawsuit business interests that have filled his campaign coffers. He sided with the money. In his veto message, Perry said the bill would have prompted too many lawsuits.

Business interests that support limiting the right of people to file suits when they're injured are among Perry's biggest campaign contributors. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry (no relation) has given him more than $1 million as governor. Anti-lawsuit activists Richard Weekley and his homebuilder brother David have given $144,000. And Texans for Lawsuit Reform has delivered $68,000.

State transportation officials recently declared Perry's property-consuming Trans-Texas Corridor dead. (They'll pursue toll-projects piecemeal). And Perry's political team hopes his call today for a constitutional amendment to protect private-property rights will blunt a Hutchison attack.

© 2009 The Dallas morning News

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