Eminent domain bill’s failure stuns Janek: Galveston County (TX) Daily News, 7/22/05

By Nathan Smith

State Sen. Kyle Janek says he was stunned this week when his proposal to limit government from seizing private property was not approved in this special legislative session.

Janek’s proposal would have limited state and local governments from taking private property if the primary purpose for the seizure was economic development.

The bill was filed in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lets local governments take land for private development to generate tax money.

The court ruled 5-4 last month in a case involving the city of New London, Conn., which sought to take homes to make way for a private development.

The Texas Senate approved the bill first and sent it to the House. Representatives added provisions and kicked the bill back to the Senate. Senators agreed to negotiate with the House on the differences, but the House refused Tuesday.

“Some of the House amendments contained language that needed further study,” said Janek, a Houston Republican whose district includes part of Galveston County.

“For example, an exception was allowed for the taking for ‘industrial development’ and this, to me, is the same as taking for ‘economic development.’

“Condemning someone’s land because you’ve found someone with deeper pockets is wrong — whether that someone is a retailer, a country club or heavy industry.”

Janek called the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill major but solvable.

He pledged to try to have the issue of eminent domain added to the next special session, which began Thursday.

The Daily News: www.galvnews.com