The Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed Senate bill 18, a.k.a. the eminent domain bill, that would limit the state's power to take or condemn private property for public use.
The Senate previously passed legislation in March, but the House made changes to tweak the bill.
Most notably, the House changed the provision drafted by the Senate that stated that landowners could buy back land after 10 years if the property was not being used for the planned purpose, taking out an allotted time period. Also, the land may be repurchased at original value or market value based on whichever price is less.
While SB 18 would greatly improve property owner rights, but some believe that there are still far too many exemptions that would allow government to claim private property.
"Powerful special interests such as oil pipeline operators ensured that the bill did not apply to them . . . I do find it fascinating that the Republican majority's commitment to individual rights stops cold when it conflicts with the wish list of a favored industry," said Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, who voted for the bill despite some disagreement.
The bill will now be sent back to the Senate to ponder and vote on the proposed amendments.
SB 18 seems to be on the fast track to being passed through the legislature. Gov. Perry has been trying to get such an eminent domain bill since 2007, and based on him declaring eminent domain as an emergency issue for the 2011 Legislative Session, it is inevitable that SB 18 will be signed into law.
www.statesman.com - Tim Eaton
- Michael Levy