Over the weekend, Louisiana voters approved a constitutional amendment that limits the eminent domain powers of state and local governments. With some exceptions, the amendment prohibits the forcible transfer of land from one private owner to another and the taking of land "for predominant use by any private person or entity." It says neither economic development nor increased tax revenue amount to a "public purpose" under the state constitution's eminent domain clause, and it allows takings as a remedy for blight only when the property poses "a threat to public health or safety." It requires that "just compensation" include "the appraised value of the property and all costs of relocation, inconvenience, and any other damages actually incurred by the owner because of the expropriation."
Louisiana is the first of a dozen states where voters this year will consider responses to the Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo v. New London, which opened the door wide for takings aimed at economic development. The other measures will be on the ballot in November.