Eminent domain bill is shot down : San Antonio TX Express, 6/15/07

By Janet Elliott

An eminent domain bill that opponents said could make road construction prohibitively costly was among 49 bills vetoed Friday by Gov. Rick Perry.


The eminent domain bill, HB 2006, had enjoyed Perry's support until an amendment was added late in the session that state and local officials said could cost taxpayers billions of dollars. It would allow property owners to sue for "diminished access" to their property because of new roads or road construction. Current law requires property owners to show "material or substantial damages" before seeking compensation.

Another provision would allow the recovery of damages for changes in traffic patterns and visibility of the property from the road. Texas courts have long disallowed this practice because it would make some public projects too expensive to build, Perry said.

He said the bill would create "a new category of damages that are beyond the pale of reason."

Perry said he had alerted legislators who handled the bill to his concerns. House author Rep. Beverly Woolley, R-Houston, said she feared there wasn't time in the last days of the session to work out compromise language.

Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, who offered the amendment Perry opposed, said he was stunned by the reaction from local officials. He said the amendment was identical to a failed bill he carried but that "no one testified against it, no one came to visit me, no fiscal implication (was added to it)."

San Antonio TX Express: http://www.mysanantonio.com