Governor Mark Sanford was in Aiken on Monday to emphasize the need for strengthening the state's eminent domain laws in the wake of a recently-defeated local TIF proposal.
Earlier this year, the governor vetoed S.97 because of his concern that it expanded eminent domain powers at the expense of private property rights. That same bill was almost used to create a TIF district that gave benefits to private developers.
Governor Sanford said that issue, combined with the recent US Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut, have illustrated the need for stronger eminent domain protections in our state, and that he will work with leaders in the General Assembly to promote that legislation in the coming year.
"Protecting property that people have invested money, work and time into over the course of many years is key to allowing families to create wealth, and key to the notion of quality of life," Gov. Sanford said. "I think the recent US Supreme Court decision was a step in the wrong direction when it comes to protecting one of our most important constitutional rights, and it means we have to take a new look at and shore up existing laws rather than be forced to react later on down the road."
Sanford identified several issues for possible incorporation into a bill in the coming legislative session. Among those are limiting which governmental authorities can use eminent domain, better defining the term "public use," and tightening the definition of what constitutes a "blighted area."
Gov. Sanford also thanked key legislators that have committed to working on this issue going forward.
Since the Kelo decision, at least 21 other states have begun work on strengthening their eminent domain statutes. Several states are considering constitutional amendments, while the governor of Connecticut, where Kelo originated, has called for a moratorium on cities using their eminent domain powers.
Alabama and Texas both called a special legislative session to deal with the issue.