Eminent Domain Protection Bill Passes the Senate

And it becomes a little less likely your grandparents' farm will be a shopping mall one day

Reports from the Texas Senate lately make one wonder whether they are all getting together for guided meditation, “share time” and hand-holding sing-a-longs before session.

In yet another unanimous decision, they approved an eminent domain bill that provides extra protection for property owner rights. The bill by Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, allows land taking for public use only. It also will require governments to make offers to land owners before seizing their property, as well as inform landowners that their heirs may repurchase the land at the same price if no progress has been made on the public project intended for the land after 10 years.

Making things more difficult for the government, any land condemnation would first have to be approved by a vote in a public meeting.

Gov. Perry applauded the legislation.

“I am pleased the Senate today passed legislation that codifies much needed eminent domain protections for Texas property owners. By clearly defining these essential safeguards, we can shield landowners from abuses of eminent domain for generations to come,” he said.

Perry hasn’t always been a friend to landowners, however. He caused uproar among landowner rights advocates when he vetoed a similar House Bill two years ago.

It’s also hard to say whether approving the new legislation will smooth things over with those who remember his ardent support of the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor. If  that project had continued, today road developers would have the authority to take large swaths of land even around the highway for private use such as hotels and retail. 

Holly LaFon has written and worked for various local publications including D Magazine and Examiner.

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