Texas’ largest farm organization is praising the Texas Legislature’s passage of a bill that includes significant reform of the state’s eminent domain process. The Texas House has concurred with Senate amendments to HB-2006, the eminent domain bill.

The Texas Farm Bureau, according to the group’s president, Kenneth Dierschke of San Angelo, said HB-2006 is the most important property rights legislation in Texas in more than a decade. The bill, sponsored by Representative Beverly Woolley of Houston, passed the Senate Wednesday on a 30-0 vote. The House concurred with the Senate action today.

“Texas farmers and ranchers have been concerned for some time about the eminent domain process,” Dierschke said. “It’s far too easy to take property in this state, sometimes without even a good faith offer. Landowners can’t match the deep pockets of the taking entities in legal proceedings.”

Dierschke said that HB-2006 will compensate landowners based on what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller. “It’s hard to argue with the fairness of that.”

Dierschke said the legislation ensures that property owners will be fairly compensated for the taking of their property by the thousands of entities with the power of eminent domain. Entities with this authority include state and municipal governments, utilities, university systems, some corporations and other government groups.

“With the state growing at such a rapid rate, eminent domain proceedings can be expected to increase. We cannot ask Texas property owners, rural and urban alike, to sacrifice their farms, ranches, businesses and homes without fair compensation,” he said. “Representative Woolley has shown tremendous leadership on this issue and the Senate passed her bill unanimously.”

Dierschke says Governor Rick Perry should sign the bill.

“Governor Perry has been a supporter of private property rights for his entire political career, and that means a lot in this state,” Dierschke said. “His signature on this legislation will secure his legacy a true champion of property rights.”