Legislators Protect Texans' Private Property Rights
Tuesday Texas lawmakers guaranteed private property owners state-level protection from eminent domain for private profit. The Texas Senate officially accepted House amendments to SB7, which restricts local governments from using their eminent domain authority to take privately owned properties for the purpose of turning them over to retail, industrial or residential developers.
The Texas House of Representatives added amendments to SB7, clarifying intent and strengthening the bill, to help protect individuals from egregious abuses of eminent domain. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Perry, which he is expected to sign.
June's decision by the Supreme Court in Kelo vs. City of New London expanded the powers of local governments granting them the right to seize homes, small businesses, churches and other property, and replace them with anything that brings in higher tax revenues. Widespread and nearly unanimous public outrage sparked a grass-roots uprising across Texas. Private property advocate groups, including the Texas Association of Realtors(R), asked Gov. Perry to add the issue to the current legislative agenda.
"Texans across the state mobilized, and Gov. Perry responded swiftly," said Lance Lacy, chairman of the 70,000-member Texas Association of Realtors(R). "The right to own and use real property is a bedrock principle for Texans and the Texas Association of Realtors(R). We are pleased that our political leaders defended our private property rights."
Texas is the third state in two months to pass a law prohibiting local governments from using the power of eminent domain to increase tax revenues. Lawmakers in at least 31 states have introduced or plan to introduce eminent domain legislation in future sessions.
Federal lawmakers have also moved to restrict the use of eminent domain. Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., introduced legislation in Congress that would prohibit federal funding for projects involving aggressive seizures of private property for economic purposes. Texas Rep. Henry Bonilla is also pressing for withholding federal assistance for development from local municipalities that abuse eminent domain.
Texas Association of Realtors: www.TexasRealEstate.com