Friday, May 6, 2011

Don’t Mess with Texas and Don’t Mess with Texas Land

Private property owners are celebrating in Texas today after the Legislature passed Senate Bill 18, the eminent domain reform bill. The bill is now on its way to Governor Perry’s desk for signature.

SB 18 is authored in the Senate by Sen. Craig Estes (Wichita Falls) and Sen. Robert Duncan (Lubbock) and sponsored in the House by Rep. Charlie Geren (River Oaks), Rep. Rene Oliveira (Brownsville) and Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt (Lexington). It enforces what the Texas Constitution guarantees – that private property owners will be protected from intrusive condemnation proceedings. Among other things, the bill says property may only be taken for a public use and that negotiations must be made in good faith, meaning a condemning entity cannot try to shortchange property owners in offering just compensation. SB 18 also includes a buy-back provision for property owners – if land is taken for a public use but progress is not made on the project within 10 years, the property owner can repurchase the property. It also requires all entities with the power of eminent domain to register with the state or risk having that power suspended.

I have long been a proponent of legislation that guarantees Texas private property owners are treated fairly and that entities with eminent domain power act responsibly. After years of setbacks, Texans will finally have their private property owners’ rights affirmed once SB 18 is signed into law.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Don’t mess with Texas, and don’t mess with Texas land!

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