Eminent Domain Abuse in Texas

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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.

Read the rest here (pdf).

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  1. To really fix eminent domain abuse, outlaw eminent domain takings entirely. If government wants your property, they can offer a price you’re willing to sell at. And if you don’t want to sell at any price, they can come up with a plan that doesn’t involve coercively grabbing your property.

  2. And if you don’t want to sell at any price, they can come up with a plan that doesn’t involve coercively grabbing your property.

    There’s a highway up here that for some strange reason takes a big sweeping left turn, then a big right, followed by another left. Otherwise, the thing is as straight as an arrow for miles.

    I found out, from a neighbor who’s been here forever, that the highway was supposed to cut through the forested hunting land owned by one of the town councilmen. He somehow argued that *his* land shouldn’t be taken, but the land next to his should.

    Not only did he keep his land, but the state had to pay big money for the extra road to skirt around his land.

  3. Wait, what? Texas isn’t a shining beacon for the rest of the nation in this area? Who would have thought? Oh, wait, only all of us residents.

    I’m with prolefeed. Eminent domain is the last vestige of the divine right of kings and has no place in a free society.

  4. It’s not all bad news coming out of Texas: Red Light Cameras May Be On Their Way Out.

  5. Caro’s The Power Broker has a map of one of Robert Moses’ 1930s parkways out on Long Island that superimposes the strange, zig zag path it takes on a map of the parcels of influential, wealthy property owners. Interestin.

  6. This one is such a fun violation of freedom, that it would be most unanimously disfavored by the public. This could most definitely be a case with which to convince the majority of a need to curtail government power, so we should all be spreading the word as best we can. While certain aspects of diminished liberty are now so clouded that we would have a more difficult time enlightening others, I personally believe this one could be the “foot in the door,” so to say.

  7. Bill Peacock, the author of the TPPF paper, has a column in today’s San Antonio Express-News on Texas eminent domain reform.

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