Friday, January 01, 2010

Another Act of Bad Faith: Texas Legislature guts eminent domain reform--again

Scurvy Tricks in Texas

Related article: Texas Eminent Domain Reform Weakened Minutes Before Passage


Paul Jacob
Common Sense
Copyright 2010

It should be a truth universally acknowledged that your average crew of incumbent politicians in possession of a reform agenda must be in want of an actual reform.

Last summer, the Texas Legislature got hold of a bill intended to prevent abuse of the state’s eminent domain power. And legislators proceeded to mangle it beyond recognition.

The act of bad faith was quickly reported by the Institute for Justice, an organization that actively combats plundering of private property all around the country. IJ alerted supporters to the bill’s alterations, explaining how that at the very last minute, in a reconciliation conference, lawmakers dramatically weakened the measure.

Note, the weakening occurred after it had passed both houses in a much stronger form.

The bill’s point had been to prevent the use of eminent domain for private redevelopment. But the final language allowed lawmakers to confer eminent domain power to any private entity at any time, regardless of other language in the measure.

In November, voters eager for better protection of their property rights overwhelmingly approved Proposition 11, despite its lax provisions. Whether abuses of eminent domain will actually be curtailed as a result depends on the whims of lawmakers and the courts.

One thing is certain, though, were Texans to possess the right of citizen initiative they could act on their own to bring real reforms to the ballot.

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