10/20/2005

Johnson — Reform eminent domain: The (Kankakee, IL) Daily Journal, 10/11/05

By Mary Baskerville

Private property rights advanced a notch Friday when the [US] House Agriculture Committee approved legislation intended to thwart the impact of this year's controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision on government property seizure for development, says Committee member Tim Johnson, R-Urbana.

HR 3405 would block federal funds from going to any state or local government that uses eminent domain to take land from one private entity and give it to another for purposes of economic development, said Johnson, the only Illinois congressman on the committee.

It's a long road from committee approval to reversal of the impact of the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo versus City of New London; but House Agriculture Chairman Bob Goodlatte called the ruling an "appalling" expansion of "the ability of state and local governments to exercise eminent domain powers to seize property under the guise of "economic development" when the public use is as incidental as generating tax revenue or creating jobs."

Johnson said the Kelo decision, in allowing use of eminent domain to condemn homes so retail businesses could replace them, "destabilized" private property rights, which he called "a core right in this country."

"The bill we reported out — enthusiastically and overwhelmingly, I might add — is one step in correcting that decision."


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