Carnahan rejects petitions on eminent domain: Kansas City (MO) Business Journal, 5/26/06

By Jim Davis

A proposed constitutional amendment sharply curtailing eminent domain's use in Missouri is all but dead after Secretary of State Robin Carnahan on Thursday invalidated petitions seeking to place a referendum on the November ballot.

"They did not meet the basic threshold requirements," said Stacie Temple, a spokeswoman for Carnahan.

The petition needed about 145,000 valid signatures. The signatures needed to be spread throughout the state's nine Congressional districts. But these addresses couldn't be verified because record-keeping was insufficient, Temple said.

Missourians in Charge, the group that circulated the petitions, is led by Kansas Citian Patrick Tuohey.

Tuohey, contacted Friday morning, declined to comment on whether the group will challenge Carnahan's decision.

Spencer Thomson, a lawyer at Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin LLP in Kansas City, said he thought an appeal was unlikely.

"The initiative petition that they were seeking to place on the ballot was extreme, and it was unnecessary in light of the Legislature's action," said Thomson, who served on a task force Gov. Matt Blunt appointed last year to study eminent domain.

The General Assembly passed House Bill 1944, which continues to let blighted property be condemned for private development. This power was essential in assembling property for H&R Block Inc.'s new downtown headquarters, as well as the Power & Light District and Sprint Center arena.

The law, which takes effect Aug. 28, also requires a premium to be paid for "historic homesteads," residential property that has been held by the same owner for at least 50 years.

Thomson said the law will provide certainty for economic development while curbing condemnation abuses.

"The Legislature did a good job of trying to balance the competing interests of economic development with private property rights," he said.

Kansas City Business Journal: http://kansascity.bizjournals.com