A bipartisan, statewide bill is leading the charge in responding to the uncertain and overbearing ruling passed by the Supreme Court earlier this year. That ruling reaffirmed the right of local government to seize property through eminent domain.
Senate Bill 167 was passed unanimously on Wednesday in the Ohio Senate by Democratic Sen. Kimberly Zurz, and will move from the Senate to the House of Representatives where it is expected to be passed by the end of the year.
The bill would create a two-year moratorium on the use of eminent domain in Ohio in order to study the new powers granted by the Supreme Court to local governments in the landmark case Kelo v. New London.
Primary sponsor Republican Sen. Tim Grendell and co-sponsor Zurz crafted the bill from their talks in working groups over the summer months. The bill looks to review Ohio's process and laws regarding eminent domain by establishing a task force to review and revise the definition of "blighted properties" and "just compensation" for seized property.
Properties are considered blighted after an inspection by the city deems them as run-down or uninhabitable.
Under the new Supreme Court ruling, non-blighted properties, such as suburban area homes or property near commercial developments, are now open to government seizure without yielding to the same process for blighted properties. No safegard is in place to protect property owners from government overreaching.
Grendell and Zurz's bill is a responsible step in reviewing Ohio's eminent domain provisions. Court's are inclined by duty to decide cases based on interpretation of documents and precedents, but it is the legislators duty to review and revise those rulings by making regional law.
Eminent domain is an idea that, if used justly, should facilitate service to the public through seizure of properties for contributions to the community, such as roads or schools. SB 167 recognizes that if left unchecked, eminent domain can be a loosely-regulated device for big business and corporate entities to apply influence on local government. To prevent this, Ohio needs to protect itself and enact clear and concise eminent domain laws. SB 167 is just that law.
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