"Is their a property rights crisis in Texas? ... There is for Rick Perry."
San Antonio Express-News
Addressing the opening session of the Texas Legislature, Gov. Rick Perry said lawmakers must address two emergency issues: eliminating sanctuary cities and protecting private property rights.
Not that these aren’t inconsequential issues, but Texas is facing a shortfall for the upcoming biennium that – depending on how you measure it – is between $15 billion and $27 billion. At minimum, there will be 17 percent less revenue to spend over the next two-year cycle.
By almost any measure, that’s a legislative emergency. So why would Perry cite two other issues as priorities? Is their a property rights crisis in Texas?
There is for Perry. In 2007, he vetoed legislation that would have affirmed private property rights in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo decision on eminent domain.
The governor said the measure would have vastly inflated costs for road construction. Not just any road construction, however. The real problem was that it presented a huge obstacle to the Trans Texas Corridor – Perry’s dream project, since abandoned, that would have necessitated the state’s seizure of as much as 600,000 acres of private property.
Ever since that veto, Perry has been trying to restore his private property credentials. After the 2009 regular session of the Texas Legislature ended, Perry used the backdrop of the Alamo to sign legislation putting a constitutional amendment on the November 2009 ballot that restricted the circumstances under which state and local government could exercise eminent domain.
But as a 2009 editorial in the Express-News pointed out, it was a contrived ceremony to obscure a dubious track record on private property rights:
That legislation, however, was a joint resolution authored by Rep. Frank Corte, R-San Antonio. Joint resolutions proposing amendments to the Texas Constitution require two-thirds support in each chamber for adoption.
As the Texas Legislature Online notes, “Joint resolutions passed by the Legislature are not submitted to the governor for signing but are filed directly with the secretary of state.” Then voters consider the amendment in the next general election. But the governor has no role in the process.
Perry’s office later clarified to the newspaper that the signing was indeed ceremonial, meant to highlight “priority issues.”
Nineteen months later, it’s still a priority – image, that is, not necessarily private property rights.
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