Thursday, March 26, 2009
Gov. Barbour has argued that the limitations on the power of eminent domain that would be the result of the passage of HB 803 would negatively affect economic development in Mississippi and prevent future job growth. After the House voted earlier in the week to override his veto, Gov. Barbour spent time lobbying Senators to change their vote.
However, the battle for property rights is not yet over in Mississippi. After the Senate vote, Senator Fillingane advanced a similar eminent domain bill (SB 2230) that had he felt would address some of the concerns expressed by the Governor and urged his fellow senators to negotiate on the surviving bill.
More details about the Senate vote are available at the Clarion Ledger.
Tuesday, March 31 @ 12pm
South steps of the State Capitol
1100 Congress Avenue, Austin
Next Tuesday, IJ will hold a press conference on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol at which time IJ will release its mid-term report card on the state's legislative proposals to reform eminent domain laws. Texas property owners from Freeport, El Paso, San Antonio and Houston who have been affected by eminent domain are expected to join the conference.
IJ urges Texas citizens to join them on the south steps of the capitol building to show your support for property rights and eminent domain reform in Texas or to contact your state representatives about this issue. You can find out your representatives by visiting http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/ and entering your address.
For more information about the press conference visit the Castle Watch Daily blog here. And be sure to check out IJ's new study on eminent domain abuse in Texas: They Want to Erase Us Out: The Faces of Eminent Domain Abuse in Texas.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
commenting on the House vote to override Gov. Barbour's veto
For more details on the Mississippi House vote yesterday visit the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Clarion Ledger, WDAM and the Associated Press article at Forbes.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Barbour promises veto of HB 803
by Clay Chandler
JACKSON - Gov. Haley Barbour said on a conference call Thursday afternoon that he will veto House Bill 803, which eliminates the use of eminent domain for major economic development projects in the state.
The bill cleared the House 119-3. The Senate, by a vote of 51-0, passed it unanimously.
Speaking to a handful of Mississippi business leaders, Barbour said he would veto the bill Monday. He urged those on the call to contact their legislators and tell them to sustain his veto. For that to happen, Barbour would need 41 votes in the House and 18 in the Senate.
While HB 803 does eliminate the state's power to take private land for economic development projects certified by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) to create at least 1,000 jobs, it leaves in tact the provision that allows local governments to seize private property for urban renewal by a majority vote of a city council.
The urban renewal issue drew a lot of attention a couple of years ago when Jackson State University attempted to seize land for development adjacent to its campus.
'Legislators who supported HB 803 have said companies could ask for an exemption to the law if the need arises. Barbour does not subscribe to that theory.
"Companies will not talk to us about big-site development (if HB 803 becomes law)," Barbour said. "Because they will assume that with no right of eminent domain, the only way they could come here is to show their hand, put all their cards on the table face up, and then see if the Legislature will let them have eminent domain for their project. They don't want to get embarrassed by the Legislature saying no. We compete with other states, and this will take us out of the hunt for these big projects."
MS Business Journal
Thursday, March 12, 2009
HB 803 restricts the government's power of eminent domain for strict public use and specifically outlaws private to private transfer, takings for private development and private purpose and seizure for enhancement of tax revenue. The bill does make exception for the Toyota Wellspring plant already under construction.
For more details on HB 803 see our post "Mississippi eminent domain legislation expected to strengthen private property rights" dated 2/12/09 or visit the Mississippi Legislature website.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
In a story published March 9, 2009 ("Gore might sell land for marina, after all") by The Facts, Nathaniel Lukefahr reports that Wright Gore, III has begun negotiating with the various parties involved in the ownership of his family's business, Western Seafood Co., to reorganize the business and the property on which it operates so that the property can be sold to the Freeport Economic Development Corporation (FEDC) for the marina project it began over 6 years ago.
Gore characterized his efforts to work with the members of his family and the various individuals owning interest in the business as a show of appreciation to the FEDC board for being honest with the Gore family and dropping the eminent domain suit. “I am doing my best to reciprocate to show that eminent domain isn’t necessary,” Gore said.
The Western Seafood property had been the object of six-year legal battle between the FEDC and the Gore family. Lukefahr's article mentions the most recent resolution: "Last month, the corporation paid the family $494,000 to offset legal fees incurred from the eminent domain battles."
Despite the time and the resources expended fighting the FEDC, the Gore family appears willing to work with the FEDC to complete the project. This demonstrates that opportunities do exist for alternative methods to classic eminent domain property siezure. Perhaps had the story played out differently and the FEDC consulted with the Gore family prior to resolving to use eminent domain for their property, the project would have reached completion on schedule and within budget. As Lukefahr quoted Freeport Economic Development Corp. board President Dan Tarver as saying “It would have saved us all a bunch of money in legal fees and suit settlements, and here we find out the land’s being made available. It just goes to show you that you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.”
The family's struggle to defend it's land and business has been memorialized in Carla T. Main's book Bulldozed: 'Kelo,' Eminent Domain and the American Lust for Land. Ms. Main and her publisher are currently the defendants in a defamation suit filed by H. Walker Royall, the Freeport-based developer of the FEDC marina project. The Institute for Justice represents Main and her publisher in the ongoing defamation suit. Bulldozed is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Monday, March 02, 2009
Source: Alaska State Legislature's House Majority
Juneau, Alaska - The Alaska State House today unanimously passed House Bill (HB) 49, legislation that strengthens Alaska property rights by adding permanent recreational structures to the inaccessible list for the exercise of eminent domain by local governments for the purpose of recreational development. Eminent domain could still be exercised for the purposes of economic development, like building schools, roads or utility infrastructure/upgrades.
The bill, sponsored by House Resources Committee Chair Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, amends Alaska Statute AS 09.55.240(e), which already included personal residences. HB 49 would define recreation structures as permanent structures that are used by the owner or beneficiary of a trust holding legal title to the structure as a dwelling for seasonal recreational purposes.
"This bill came about from the use of local governments to impose eminent domain to increase their tax bases," Johnson said. "We heard from many Alaskans with structures like cabins on streams and rivers that weren't their primary homes, and they were afraid they were unprotected. HB 49 adds that level of protection for Alaska home-owners by placing their permanent recreational structures under statute as off-limits for exercising certain uses of eminent domain."
HB 49 now moves to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.
For more information and a discussion by Rep. Johnson about the reasons Alaskans benefit from the passage of HB 49 click here.