Legislators will look at state eminent domain laws: Benton County (AR) Daily record, 7/16/05

By Gary Lookadoo

Prompted by a U.S. Supreme Court decision, a state legislative panel will take a look at state laws regarding eminent domain, said state Sen. Kim Hendren, R-Gravette.

In Kelo v. New London, several homeowners brought to the U.S. Supreme Court their challenge of a decision by New London, Conn., to use eminent domain to take their homes and allow for a planned economic development.

In a recent 5-4 vote, the court found New London’s plans constitutional. Eminent domain may be used for nearly any "public purpose," including economic redevelopment, under the federal constitution, the court majority found.

Soon after the decision was announced, some state legislators from Benton County — including state Reps. Shirley Borhauer, R-Bella Vista; Mike Kenney, R-Siloam Springs; and Hendren — took strong exception to the court decision. "I believe in eminent domain when it is for the public good. But I don’t think the Supreme Court should have done that to say, "OK, I’ve got a couple of million dollars and I thought I’d like to put some private industry somewhere. Where did you say you live?" Borhauer said.

They wanted to examine and, if necessary, change Arkansas law and regulations to discourage the state from too broadly applying its eminent domain power, Hendren and Kenney said soon after the decision. "(I) asked the (Legislative) Council to research that in the state of Arkansas and see what we need to do … (and) where the state fits with our current laws," Hendren said soon after the court decision.

On July 15, state lawmakers adopted a proposal for an interim study of the state’s eminent domain laws, Hendren said. "The eminent domain/condemnation procedures (study) … went to the legislative Agriculture and Economic Development (Committee)," Hendren said.

With interim studies, lawmakers examine issues between biennial legislative sessions. New state laws often follow completion of interim studies.

Benton County Daily Record: http://nwanews.com