House Leadership Unveils Eminent Domain Initiative

House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, and other senior House Republicans have committed to passing legislation in the 2006 General Assembly to restrict the condemnation and private property taking – or eminent domain – powers of governments in Virginia. The protection of private property rights has become a pressing public issue since the U.S. Supreme Court decided last month that seizing private property for the purpose of augmenting the tax base constituted a public benefit.

“Homeowners, entrepreneurs, churches and non-profits across Virginia are rightly dismayed by the potential of having their private property rights severely diminished – or their homes and small businesses confiscated outright,” said Howell at a press conference this afternoon. “Citizens need to know that the majority they’ve elected to lead the House of Delegates not only shares their concerns and opposes the Court’s 5 to 4 ruling, but that we will do what is necessary to ensure that property rights in Virginia are protected from the effects of this misguided change in public policy.

“Here in the birthplace of America’s government,” he continued, “we are committed to ensuring that ‘public use’ shall continue to mean what it says: a clearly understood, strictly limited definition that has served us well since our Nation’s founders approved the Bill of Rights over 225 years ago.”

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  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Well, that straw man has taken about a dozen bullets to the chest already and the votes in January to hoist him up to by the neck will be 100-0 and 40-0. Glad to know they are keeping the polar bears at bay. (“But there are no polar bears in Virginia.” “See, its working!”) But a prediction: folks better read that proposed legislation very carefully. The law of unintended consequences is a powerful force in these matters.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    “‘public use’ shall continue to mean what it says: a clearly understood, strictly limited definition that has served us well since our Nation’s founders approved the Bill of Rights over 225 years ago.”

    i.e. that the governments can basically grab land anytime they want for worthless public use projects? Or re-zone entire areas to exclude certain things? Yeah, that’s never been a constant controversy or headache for local elected officials or anything.

    Chalk this up to yet another issue that affects the voters in absolutely no way whatsoever but is the voiced concern of politicians simply because it’s a great fundraising tool. Maybe we can pass another sham bill on partial birth abortion next. Or ban gay marriage for what, like the eigth time, just for kicks?

  3. Virginia Centrist Avatar
    Virginia Centrist

    Nice. I just posted on this topic and also think it’s pretty overblown…

  4. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    This is not polar bear protection, it is more like protection against some prehistoric rodent or as we noted “a witch hunt for ladies on welfare who drive Cadillacs.”

    Every time Kelo comes up the owners of derelict shopping centers, abandoned concrete plants and run down rental property see a way to make more money maintaining vacant and underutilized land (aka, brown-field and grey-field sites).

    Here is an idea. Limit the use of eminent domain to public purposes that create functional human settlement patterns. That will create a discussion about just what such patterns might be and that could lead to a useful educational exercise.


  5. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Which demagogue shall we elect to explain to us in excrutiating detail what, exactly, constitutes a functional settlement pattern?

  6. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    This is great. We can now face a situation in which government can prevent us from developing because it will cause sprawl and unwanted costs associated with development, and then when the time is “right” they can take our underdeveloped land away and turn it over to someone else in order to generate higher taxes.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    I don’t know how many of you know this, but Creigh Deeds has also issued a few ideas about his position the eminent domain decision and how the ruling applies to Virginia.

    The Farmville Herald had a great editorial supporting Sen. Deeds’s position on the matter.

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