Tough Road Ahead for Private Property Rights Protection Act

The next hurdle for this bill is whether or not it can get traction in the Senate.

Published on: Mar 5, 2012

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.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The "Property Rights Protection Act" (H.R. 1433) is a start on correcting the abuses of eminent domain – but only a start, because it addresses part of the problem referred to as "economic development takings." Let's now address eminent domain abuse which falls under the category of "natural resource development takings." This is where government and energy companies combine to seize private property rights (surface and/or subsurface) for gas/oil pipelines, compressor stations, underground nat gas storage reservoirs and more. As a former gas leaseholder in Pennsylvania, I ended up fighting eminent domain for two years after we and others were sued by Spectra Energy, a Texas gas company, for our property rights (surface and/or subsurface) backed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It is the sleeper issue for many -- even if you're a gas leaseholder. Eminent domain "taking" can only occur under the badge of government – whether federal, state or local. It is a nasty experience in the exercise of power over private property owners. Citizens do not stand on a level playing field politically, legally or economically. It is not stretching a point to say that eminent domain puts landowners in a face-off with the equivalent of a cartel comprised of energy companies and government, because the power of eminent domain allows corporations -- backed by government -- to control pricing and competition (i.e., "just compensation" and what constitutes "public interest"). By definition, that is a cartel. Private property owners do not have much, if any, leverage to speak of when it comes to negotiating "just compensation" (hear the sound of laughter -- it's coming from the energy companies). But one benchmark that is worth looking into is the agreements energy companies quickly reach with government. Check out "lease" agreements with the PA Game Commission, for example. It is much better than anything you'll see among private property owners – and don't give us that argument that the government has more acreage. The terms are fundamentally different. Government power – regulation – makes energy companies more respectful in their "negotiations" with government. For more information, check out this reference: Sweet Lease1 – This profitable power of "taking" is why energy companies want "forced pooling" in Pennsylvania; and why New York State has "compulsory integration." Texans who value their property rights must deal with "Rule 37." Conservative Texans I know don't have a lot of "back up" in them; and its nice to see them pushing back on Big Government and Big Business -- both are used to having their way with private property owners. As Founding Father John Adams emphasized, private property rights are fundamental to freedom. Walter Lippman said it pretty well in 1933, when he wrote: "Private property was the original source of freedom. It still is its main bulwark." Don't kid yourself, it is under threat.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Now we finally know,even with a deed and the obligation to pay property taxes,we really don't own the land we farm.We are at the mercy of any other entity that promises more tax revenue from our property if They control it.The idea that the U.S. Senate may or may not take this issue up for discussion or vote is not very comforting.So we wait and see.Sincerely,Farmer Mike.

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