The U.S. House judiciary subcommittee on Constitution and Civil Justice recently passed a bill (H.R. 1944) that is designed to protect private property from eminent domain takings by creating a federal bar to transfers from government to private entities for economic redevelopment. The press release is available here.
The bill is entitled the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2013 and may be read in full here. The primary provision of the Act reads: ”No State or political subdivision of a State shall exercise its power of eminent domain, or allow the exercise of such power by any person or entity to which such power has been delegated, over property to be used for economic development or over property that is used for economic development within 7 years after that exercise, if that State or political subdivision receives Federal economic development funds during any fiscal year in which the property is so used or intended to be used.”
The proposed legislation also creates a private right of action for alleged violations, bars sovereign immunity as a defense, permits award of attorneys’ fees and costs, and shifts the burden to the government to show that the taking was not for economic development by clear and convincing evidence.
The Judiciary Committee chair and the main sponsor of the bill lauded its merits:
Chairman Goodlatte: “Private ownership of property is vital to our freedom and prosperity, and is one of the most fundamental principles embedded in the U.S. Constitution; however, the 2005 Supreme Court decision issued in the Kelo vs. City of New London case jeopardizes the protection of private property from government seizure guaranteed by the Constitution. The Private Property Rights Protection Act will help to limit the negative impact of this damaging Supreme Court decision.
Congressman Sensenbrenner: “American citizens have a fundamental right to use their property for whatever lawful purpose they choose. Congress should protect private property rights and reform the use and abuse of eminent domain. As a result of Kelo v. City of New London, farmers in Wisconsin are particularly vulnerable because farmland is less valuable than residential or commercial property. This bill would restore the rights the Supreme Court took away and provide Americans with the means to protect their private property from inappropriate claims of eminent domain.”
As we all know from our Schoolhouse Rock days, this “Bill” has a long way to go before becoming a law – but, we’ll keep you posted.
- NJ Senate Committee Advances Eminent Domain/Redevelopment Bill (njcondemnationlaw.com)
- NJ Assembly Unanimously Approves Bill Allowing Redevelopment Without Eminent Domain (njcondemnationlaw.com)
- Another Chance at Federal Eminent Domain Reform? (eternalthegod.wordpress.com)
- Missouri Supreme Court Enforces Post-Kelo Legislation Limiting Takings for Economic Development (njcondemnationlaw.com)