Voting 376 for and 38 against, members of the [US] House of Representatives passed the Property Rights Protection Act on November 3, 2005. Under the House bill, federal funds would be denied to the states or political subdivisions to acquire property for economic development.
The bill gives any aggrieved property owner the right to bring an action to enforce the provisions of the Act in the appropriate Federal or State court. The law puts the burden of proof on the defendant to show by clear and convincing evidence that the taking is not for economic development.
The Act further provides that a prevailing plaintiff shall be allowed reasonable attorney’s fees as part of cost of the action including expert fees as part of the attorney’s fee.
Interestingly, the only “no” vote in New Jersey’s delegation was Rep. Steven R. Rothman (D) of Fairlawn, NJ. View the House of Representatives Roll Call here.
The bill now goes to the Senate for approval where Senator John Cornyn has proposed legislation.
It’s show time in New Jersey!
Both gubernatorial candidates Jon Corzine and Doug Forrester have said they will take steps if elected to protect New Jersey’s home owners from eminent domain. The [newark] Star-Ledger gives us the essence of the candidates in its Perspectives section:
Corzine: The state must strengthen its laws to guarantee homeowners are protectors.
Forrester: Would create a task force to study possible remedies to the current system.
Acting Governor Codey, soon to relegate to Senate President Codey, does not have eminent domain reform on his agenda. Codey’s position is of paramount importance if any eminent domain reform legislation is going to be considered by the New Jersey State Senate.
New Jersey Eminent Domain Law Blog: www.njeminentdomain.com