Eminent domain bill may be sidelined: Denver (CO) Post, 4/20/06

The sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment is upset with changes made in the House

By Chris Frates

A proposed constitutional amendment to prevent governments from taking land for economic development purposes could be killed today unless major changes are made, the sponsor said Wednesday.

House lawmakers gave preliminary approval to House Concurrent Resolution 1001 on Wednesday, but they changed it so significantly that Republican Rep. Al White, the bill's sponsor, said the final product "is just abhorrent."

"It goes in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go," the Winter Park lawmaker said. "I don't have any faith that it will be amended in the Senate so I'm going to kill the bill."

But Democratic House Speaker Andrew Romanoff of Denver said he may delay a final vote on the bill to see if a consensus can be reached.

White said he would not allow the bill to pass the way it stands now.

If White kills his proposal, he said, he and other supporters would continue the effort to petition a less refined proposal onto the ballot this November.

HCR 1001 would have allowed governments to condemn a property in a blighted area if necessary to improve the area, even if the property itself is not blighted. It would have also allowed for consensual condemnation, White said.

But Democratic Rep. Paul Weissmann of Louisville won narrow approval for an amendment that made several major changes, including one that would allow governments to condemn whole swatches of property.

Weissmann said he was trying to reach a balance between private property and public use.

Meanwhile, a House committee unanimously passed a bill detailing the requirements a private toll road developer would have to meet before building a road.

"It's tough to balance this stuff, but I think this sets up a process that anyone affected by a toll road would have lots of opportunity to comment on it and affect the decisions," said Democratic Rep. Jack Pommer of Boulder, the bill's sponsor.

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