The U.S. House has passed the Private Property Rights Protection Act which would prevent states from using eminent domain over property to be used for economic development. If it reaches final passage in the Senate it will overturn the 2005 Supreme Court Kelo v. City of New London decision.
Nebraska Farm Bureau National Affairs Coordinator Jordan Dux while happy with the House passage says it'll probably be tougher to get it approved in the Senate.
"This is a big decision for us, this is a big win for us. The House has been able to get through a lot of things we've supported," Dux said. "The problem will be obviously what the Senate will want to do; if they will actually take it up. That's kind of the major stumbling point, it's been that way for a lot of pieces of legislation we've wanted and the path forward is unclear, but I know we are going to try to move and hopefully get some action on the Senate."
Dux says private property rights have taken on added importance especially considering rising land values.
"Agriculture is extremely capital intensive; you look at where land prices have been and where they are going it appears the sky's the limit right now," Dux said. "With property being that highly valued we want to make sure that farmers are able to maintain that property that they keep that property and it's not taken away from them. This was a big win for us and hopefully we'll be able to move it forward. Where property valuations have been at we want to make sure that if farmers have paid for that property, they maintain the value of that property and that it is not taken away from them."
The House measure not only prevents eminent domain from being used for property used in economic development it also establishes a private right of action for property owners if a state or local government violates the new rule.