On Monday, I wrote about Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's sabotage of eminent domain reform. That same day, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) released an important new paper documenting similar property rights abuse in the Lone Star state. The most immediate concern is Senate Bill 18, which is winding its way through the statehouse now. As the TPPF analysis reveals, while S.B. 18 appears to protect property rights from Kelo-style takings, in reality it will allow politicians, corporations, and developers to continue doing business as usual. Here's TPPF's recommendation:
To fix Texas' Kelo problem, we need to do three things: 1) eliminate the ability of governments to transfer taken property from one private owner to another, 2) eliminate the ability of governments to use blight designations as an end run around the ban for takings for economic development purposes, and 3) end government land speculation by requiring that property not put to the public use for which it was taken within five years, be offered for sale back to the original owner at the price the government paid for it. Only with these reforms will Texans be assured that cities like El Paso, with its downtown redevelopment plan in place, won't use eminent domain to achieve the dreams of the well-connected at the expense of everyone else.