Amendment designed to protect against eminent domain: Leesville (LA) Daily Leader, 5/25/06

By Brian Trahan

Strike one up for the common man, as the Louisiana House approved a constitutional amendment that would make it more difficult for government to utilize eminent domain for economic development.

The amendment, introduced by Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, would allow government control to seize land only for public projects such as roads, reservoirs, drainage and industrial development, according to Rep. John Smith, D-Leesville. It would prohibit the seizure of a house, land or both, from a private citizen or family.

“What was happening is that land was being seized under eminent domain and used for commercial development or tax revenue,” Smith said of the expropriation controversy.

It's only happened three times in Louisiana, but all three cases involved commercial property. Still, Smith explained that since the Supreme Court gave local government the right to expropriation, the Legislature felt obligated to protect the rights of small landowners.

The measure passed 89-3 and will need approval from voters to take effect in Louisiana. According to Smith, it could be included in the September election or in December.

As an added protection, the amendment also prohibits expropriation of up to 160 acres of a family homestead. “This amendment passed overwhelmingly and not it's up to the voters,” Smith said.

Leesville Daily Leader: http://www.leesvilledailyleader.com