Eminent-domain bill clears Senate: Rapid City (SD) Journal, 2/14/06

By Celeste Calvitto

Calling it a model of legislative cooperation, the South Dakota Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed a measure that is designed to protect private-property rights.

“This bill is truly a work of art,” Senate Minority Leader Garry Moore, D-Yankton, said. Moore commended HB1080’s chief sponsors, Sen. Jim Lintz, R-Hermosa, and House Majority Leader Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, for working with interested parties in crafting the legislation.

HB1080, which ensures that government agencies cannot condemn land for economic development, stems from a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer regarding eminent domain.

Lintz told lawmakers that he and Rhoden began work on the legislation the day after the Kelo v. New London decision.

“Our phones were already ringing,” he said. “It created quite a backlash because people thought they were protected by that kind of action.”

The Supreme Court ruled that the city of New London could condemn private homes for the construction of a hotel and convention center because the new development would generate more tax revenue. But the court also said that states could put further restrictions on eminent domain.

Lintz and Rhoden said that although South Dakota has taken a conservative approach to condemnation issues, they wanted to make sure state law would prevent what occurred in Connecticut from happening here.

Under HB1080, counties, municipalities and housing and redevelopment commissions cannot transfer property to private or nongovernmental entity primarily for “enhancement” of tax revenue. It also stipulates that after seven years, if land isn’t used for the purpose for which it was acquired, it must be offered for sale to the original owner of the property.

Lintz said he and Rhoden wanted to get everyone on board.

“We knew it was something that all the people of South Dakota were concerned about,” Lintz said.

HB1080 was passed by the House last month. Thirty-one of the 35 senators were co-sponsors, and they passed it unanimously on Tuesday.

Rapid City Journal: www.rapidcityjournal.com