Saturday, February 12, 2011

An Eminent Domain fix for Texas

I found this on a blog on the Houston Chronicle site.
Senate seeks to protect property owners with eminent domain fix
By Sen. Carlos Uresti

Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, plans to offer weekly reflections of the week. Here is his fifth update of life in the Texas Legislature:

The state Senate tackled the controversial issue of eminent domain this week, sending the House a bill that provides strong new protections for Texas property owners.

I joined my colleagues in a unanimous vote on SB 18, which prohibits the government or a private entity from taking property if it is not for public use.

The measure would also give property owners more rights regarding easements across their land and -- for the first time in Texas -- allow them to repurchase property if a project doesn't show any progress in 10 years. The issue of eminent domain has been simmering in Texas for years. The Legislature tried but failed on two previous occasions to mend loopholes in the law. Both times, critics said the effort did not go far enough. Despite the stated intent of the authors and the comprehensive nature of this bill, it has critics as well.

Some say that SB 18 could still allow the taking of private property for non-public purposes through the "commingling" of government and private entities, particularly in the area of toll road development. That is no small charge, given the widespread and passionate public opposition to the proposed Trans Texas Corridor, which is no longer on the drawing board.
Read it all here.

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