Texas Farm Bureau appreciates Governor Perry’s support for this important piece of the eminent domain package we have sought since 2007. While we fully support HJR 14, it is only one step in fixing the eminent domain laws of the Lone Star State.

HJR 14 ratifies a law that the Legislature passed in the 2005 special session that limits the taking of private property by the use of eminent domain. Subject to voter approval in November, it will add that important protection to the Texas Constitution. It does little however, to relieve the burden property owners continue to endure when a condemning entity goes after their land. That is an important “next step.”

Texas Farm Bureau strongly believes that additional protections--compensation for landowners for lost access to their property, offers that represent fair market value and the right to repurchase land not used for the condemning purpose—must be part of any true reform.

We were deeply disappointed when the 81st Legislature adjourned without a solution to a problem that is surging with the state’s rapid population growth. The opportunity was there. The governor, the entire Texas Senate and a large majority of the members of the House Land & Resource Management Committee stood in full support for SB 18, a bill by Senator Estes that offered the true eminent domain reform Texans deserve. The opportunity died however, in the battle over Voter Identification on the House floor.

On May 27, Texas Farm Bureau called for a special session to address full eminent domain reform. Since that time, Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, and others have called for the addition of eminent domain reform to a special session agenda.

We are today in firm support of HJR 14. Adoption by the voters of Texas will be a good beginning. However, it’s also time to finish the job.