Fellow Grassroots Texans:
We are forwarding below the latest alert from Terri Hall of TURF. We’ve long known Terri as a tireless advocate for property rights. If she’s raising concerns about SB 18, that should give all property owners pause. As with any and all information we send along, we encourage everyone to check the facts and analysis yourself. Terri includes her phone number and email address on her releases, for those who have questions or need more information.
A number of our readers have raised some background questions about eminent domain. We have included the most common questions and some answers below.
QUESTION : What is ‘Eminent Domain?’
ANSWER : Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private land by force against the wishes of the owner of the land. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eminent_domain)
QUESTION : What is Eminent Domain Used For?
ANSWER : Traditionally, eminent domain power was used to acquire land for general public benefit, such as for public roads and similar public purposes. More recently, governments have been using the eminent domain power to forcibly transfer property from one private property owner to a different private property owner, rather than for general public benefit. This is known as ’eminent domain abuse’ or ’eminent domain for private gain.’ (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/09/26/60minutes/main575343.shtml)
QUESTION : What is ‘Kelo’?
ANSWER : ‘Kelo’ is shorthand for Kelo v. City of New London, a landmark property rights case recently decided by the United States Supreme Court. The case was brought by private property owners who objected to the government’s use of eminent domain power to forcibly transfer their land to a for-profit corporation. The Supreme Court held that such private-to-private transfers are not barred by the Constitution. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London)
With that background in place, we bring to you TURF’s latest…
Texas Senate passed Eminent Domain bill, SB 18 without needed changes!
Calls Needed to Texas House
The Texas Senate passed the fast-tracked eminent domain bill, SB 18, today without changes. Again, the bill does NOTHING to fix Kelo. This bill still allows eminent domain for private gain for “blight,” “economic development,” and a litany of things in the name of a “public use.” Your Texas Representatives in the House now need to hear from YOU! Texans need to say ANY eminent domain bill that fails to provide protection from Kelo is UNACCEPTABLE and a ruse!
Ask your members of the House to put some language in the House version that will give landowners genuine protection from Kelo abuses, including no eminent domain for private gain like stealing Texans’ land in the name of a road project and handing it to a private, for-profit, foreign toll operator for 50 years using public private partnerships.
Remember that an eminent domain attorney who represents landowners in eminent domain cases said this bill was a “lobbyist’s dream.”
Call your Texas State Representatives now!
Tell them to FIX SB 18 and NO eminent domain for private gain under ANY circumstances!
Go here to find out who your representatives are: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/
CONTACT: Terri Hall, Founder/Director of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom or (TURF)
SB 18 sails through Texas Senate
Does NOT protect landowners from eminent domain for private gain
(Austin, TX – February 9, 2011) Today, the Texas Senate passed Governor Rick Perry’s fast-tracked ’emergency’ eminent domain bill, SB 18. The grassroots don’t think the bill goes far enough because it still fails to protect to landowners from Kelo abuses (ie – blight, economic development, foreign-owned toll roads). It looks great in parts of subsection “b” only to undo it with all the exceptions under subsection “c.” The bill continues the authority of private entities to benefit from eminent domain in the name of a laundry list of various “public uses.” (See the bill’s loophole-laden language below)
Sen. Leticia Van De Putte questioned some of the vague language in the bill and asked, “Doesn’t this open it up to lawsuits?” to which she got no assurances that it wouldn’t.
Many lawmakers are telling Texans that SB 18 takes care of Kelo and addresses their concerns when the plain reading of this bill says otherwise. Eminent domain for private gain became the centerpiece of the public blowback to Perry’s Trans Texas Corridor and push for foreign-owned toll roads across Texas.
“After four previous attempts to protect Texas landowners from eminent domain for private gain, lawmakers either can’t get it right or won’t get it right. Either way, it’s unacceptable. Texans deserve to be told the truth and to be given true protection from eminent domain for private gain, not have their lawmakers tell them they have it when they don’t,” noted TURF Founder Terri Hall.
“Texans know they can’t trust Perry on eminent domain, this bill proves the leopard hasn’t changed his spots. With quotes like this one from the bill’s author, Senator Craig Estes, in the Star-Telegram February 6, lawmakers may just encounter a Trans Texas Corridor-style uprising:
‘Every word in there has been carefully crafted,’ said Estes, whose district includes Parker, Wise, and parts of Denton and Collin counties. ‘Nobody is 100 percent happy, which means it’s a pretty good bill.’
Accordingly, Estes said he will fight any amendment to ward off even the slightest change that could unravel the compromise.
‘I don’t care if your amendment turns lead into gold. It’s not going to happen if I can help it,’ Estes said. ‘Any bill can be made better, but when you have all the major interest groups on board, let’s don’t let perfection get in the way of something that’s good for Texas.”’
In committee Estes quipped that SB 18 was a special interests bill, then tried to back-track and say all Texans are a “special interest.” An eminent domain attorney who represents landowners in eminent domain cases said this bill was a “lobbyist’s dream.”
The grassroots want language in the bill that would prevent ANY eminent domain for private gain, no exceptions.