Despite Little Fanfare, Property Protection Most Important Success of New Mexico's 2007 Legislative Session: The Free Liberal, 4/9/07

The 2007 legislative session [of the New Mexico legislature] was by all accounts one of the busiest 60-day sessions in memory. With action taken on issues ranging from the momentous to the mundane, sometimes important legislation slips by unnoticed.

This was recently the case as New Mexico property owners won a momentous victory when Governor Richardson signed legislation protecting them from the abusive practice of using eminent domain for economic development.

The issue of eminent domain generated widespread attention and a nationwide public outcry in 2005 when the U.S Supreme Court greatly expanded the ability of local governments to use eminent domain in Kelo v. New London.

As Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing pointed out, “Despite a relative lack of media coverage we are not alone in viewing property rights protections as the signature accomplishment of the 2007 legislative session.”

Gessing noted that, “After having vetoed legislation (flawed as it was) in 2006 that would have prohibited some abusive eminent domain practices, Governor Richardson endured a great deal of criticism. So, I’m not sure why he’s not taking more credit for this success.”

“The legislation passed this year,” Gessing said, “is a compromise that gives the City of Rio Rancho some flexibility in addressing the platting issue that has plagued the city since its inception, but at the same time protects property owners in Rio Rancho and around the state from having their property taken solely for economic development purposes.”

“Hopefully, the Legislature will further improve New Mexico’s eminent domain procedures by addressing the issues of ‘fair compensation’ for property owners and by improving the notice and hearing processes in order to give property owners a fair shake when eminent domain proceedings are undertaken, Gessing urged.”

“With legislative attention focused on everything from banning cock-fighting to Pluto’s status as a planet, we are pleased that the Legislature found time to protect property owners who can now rest easier knowing that their homes are safe.” said Gessing.

The Free Liberal, Woodbridge VA: http://www.freeliberal.com