Sen. Frank Barnitz plans to sponsor eminent domain legislation and to oppose the governor’s 65 percent plan in the upcoming legislative session.
Barnitz’s bill would allow eminent domain to be used for public infrastructure like roads or utilities but would prohibit the use of eminent domain for economic purposes. It would also redefine how an area is deemed “blighted” and would include a penalty provision for public entities that do not offer a fair price.
Barnitz expects his to be one of numerous eminent domain bills proposed this session.
“Everybody wants to get on the bandwagon,” he said. “There’s no doubt there’s been abuse of eminent domain the past.”
Barnitz said he is 99 percent sure that eminent domain legislation will be approved in the coming year, but he is not sure what the final version of a bill will look like.
Developers testified during Gov. Matt Blunt’s eminent domain task force meetings, touting the benefits of economic development and the need for eminent domain to make those projects a reality. Blunt and the Republican majority have been sympathetic to businesses in the past and have made economic growth a top state priority.
“It’s questionable how strong an eminent domain law will become because of strong issues and interests surrounding the Republican Party,” Barnitz said.
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