Want to stop government from taking your property and transferring it to someone else? Texans have a chance to do that on Nov. 3 with a yes vote on Proposition 11, according to the president of the state’s largest farm organization. The U.S. Supreme Court in the Kelo v. New London (Conn.) case in 2005 authorized eminent domain for economic development, but left the door open for states to make their own law preventing these kinds of takings. Proposition 11 is Texas’ response.
“For too long our eminent domain laws have favored the condemners and left those impacted most—our state’s private property owners—with few legal options,” said Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke said. “Prop 11 is a good step toward bringing the eminent domain reform Texans need and deserve.”
Proposition 11, the final constitutional amendment proposed on the Nov. 3 ballot, stops the government from taking someone’s land to benefit another’s economic gain or boost tax revenue.
In addition to banning eminent domain for economic development reasons, Proposition 11 will require new entities seeking condemning power in Texas to first obtain approval by at least two-thirds of the Texas Legislature, as well as force condemning entities to address each individual property involved in an urban blight condemnation, rather than simply rub out entire neighborhoods.
Although much of the proposal is already in Texas law, adding it to the Texas Constitution gives it teeth, Dierschke said.
“When it comes to safeguards protecting private property, Texas laws have been lacking,” he said. “Texas Farm Bureau has fought for years to enact meaningful reforms of our eminent domain laws, but for years political games have stood in the way.”
Bills reforming Texas eminent domain law—including clauses demanding good faith offers from condemners, fair market value for property taken and reasonable compensation for items such as lost access to one’s property—were introduced in the last two legislative sessions.
The first, approved overwhelming in both houses of the Legislature, met with a veto by Gov. Perry. The second, approved by everyone in the Texas Senate, died with many other pieces of legislation as part of the political wrangling that ensued on the House floor. Gov. Perry refused to add the issue to the special called session.
“We can send a resounding message to all of our elected officials on Nov. 3,” Dierschke said. “The days of toying with people’s private property in Texas are finished. Our property is far too precious for political pandering, and our chance for change starts Nov. 3 with your support of Prop 11.”