Legislature failed property owners on eminent domain: Decatur (AL) Daily, 4/19/06


Most voters wanted two things from legislators when they went to Montgomery in the winter to begin a new session.

Voters didn't want additional taxes, and they wanted tighter control over government and private parties' ability to condemn their land.

Legislators, in an election year, were not about to raise taxes, and managed to give some people a brief reprieve from sales taxes on the first weekend in August when parents do heavy back-to-school buying.

But they couldn't overcome the pressure from city and county government lobbyists and developers who see new restrictions on use of eminent domain as an impediment to progress.

Legislators had lame excuses for the proposed constitutional amendment not going on the July ballot for voters to approve. One reason, they said, was that the House-Senate compromise came so late on the last night that not enough House members remained in the chamber to pass the bill.

Another reason, they said, was that the proposal would have been on the July 18 primary election runoff ballot when fewer people tend to vote.

Obviously, not enough House members cared about the bill passing for them to stick around for the vote. So, take that you property owners who vote!

One sure way to spice up the run-off election would have been to have the proposed amendment on the ballot.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Connecticut case that allowed private developers to seize waterfront land for redevelopment frightened property owners everywhere. After the court's decision last year, the Legislature rushed through a bill that gives more protection but it leaves many property owners feeling vulnerable.

Decatur Daily: http://www.decaturdaily.com