Committee to hold hearings on eminent domain: Drovers Magazine, 8/1/05

On Friday [7/29/05], the House Agriculture Committee Chairman, Bob Goodlatte joined Reps Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) and Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.) to introduce the Strengthening the Ownership of Private Property [STOPP] Act.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced in response to the narrow 5 to 4 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. City of New London, giving local governments broad eminent-domain power to seize private property from one party and give it to another. Goodlatte was announced that the Ag Committee has been granted primary jurisdiction of this legislation and pledged to hold hearings on the issue in early September.

“This appalling (court) decision strikes a serious blow to the core values of our nation, and has far-reaching implications,” says Goodlatte. “In defining 'public use' so expansively, the Court essentially erased any protection of private property as understood by the Founders of our Nation."

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling gives local governments broad power to seize property to generate tax revenue. State and local governments can now use eminent domain to take away the property of any individual for nearly any reason, including taking property for the benefit of another individual or corporation. Cities can now bulldoze private citizens' homes or seize farmland to make way for shopping malls or other development, essentially ensuring that no citizen's property is safe, said a committee news release.

The STOPP Act will prevent governments from taking property from one private party and giving it to another. When abuses occur, the STOPP Act will prevent localities and states from receiving federal economic assistance on all economic development projects, not just those upon which abuses occur. The legislation will also make state and local governments subject to the Uniform Relocation Act, which provides fair-market value and moving expenses relocated citizens.

“I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing the Strengthening the Ownership of Private Property Act,” continues Goodlatte. “I am committed to the principles of private property and limited government. I believe this legislation is necessary to ensure that our homes, farms, businesses, churches, and other private property will not be bulldozed in abusive land grabs that only benefit private individuals.”

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