By Richard Young
Recently the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling regarding eminent domain that has caught the attention of many Americans. In the decision, the high court said that federal, state and local governments may seize private property for commercial development if it can be considered of economic benefit to the public at large.
Eminent domain has been an important tool governments can use to improve their communities. It is a necessary evil. However, it's a tool that should be used sparingly and only as a last resort.
Many Hoosiers understand the need for eminent domain when it comes to projects that benefit the entire community projects like roads, sewers and schools. However, when the government seizes land in the name of economic development or commercial profit, eminent domain is not being used as intended.
The entire premise is based, in my judgment, on the notion that a particular project would benefit the entire community, not just a few individuals. I fail to see the common good when homes and farms are bulldozed in order to make room for another strip mall, office park or more condos and apartments.
A line must be drawn.
Through a summer study committee, the Indiana General Assembly is researching ways to better define when eminent domain can and cannot be employed. Currently, in Indiana, a government can only seize private property if it is located in an area needing redevelopment. However, in light of the recent court ruling, a clearer definition outlining the strict circumstance in which eminent domain can be used is needed.
Hoosiers have worked hard to obtain their property and deserve the right to live without fear of the government taking it away. Be assured that my colleagues and I all understand this and will continue to work to secure your property rights.
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Richard Young is minority leader in the Indiana State Senate