Many of you might have already seen the column from Ag Commissioner Todd Staples in today’s Statesman. In case you haven’t . . .
SB 18, the bill to provide more protection from eminent domain, the bill that was strongly supported by the Texas Farm Bureau, passed the Senate, although it was held up in the Senate far longer that it should have been. It reached the House so late that it was caught up in the end-of-session slow-down effort in the House, so never passed.
HJR 14 did pass both houses and will be on the November ballot as a constitutional amendment saying that condemnation proceedings must be for a public purpose.
Staples’ column asks that eminent domain protection be one of the subjects in a special session. He says: “The passage of HJR 14, a constitutional amendment that will be sent to the voters in November, provides much needed protection to ensure that, in the unfortunate instance that government must exercise condemnation powers, that it is for a clear public use and purpose.”
“Painfully absent from our laws in Texas . . . are fundamental protections to the owners of private property. A series of loopholes in the law and court decisions have eroded our rights. . . . [SB 18] would have established stricter penalties for not negotiating in good faith; demanded adequate compensation for loss of access; and clarified that eminent domain must only be exercised for public use. We know there are several matters that were casualties of the regular session that need to be tackled — eminent domain reform is without a question or doubt one of these essential topics.”