Nine States Vote to Limit Gov't Property Expropriation Powers

Monisha Bansal | Staff Writer | Thursday, November 09, 2006

Nine States Vote to Limit Gov't Property Expropriation Powers

( - Voters in 11 states on Tuesday considered the issue of the government's ability to take land for use in private development, and nine voted in favor of greater restrictions on the government.

"What the figures show is that Americans overwhelmingly support restrictions on the government's ability to take property from one private individual and give it to another," said Steven Anderson, director of the Castle Coalition, a national coalition of citizens opposed to the abuse of eminent domain - the power of the state to expropriate private property.

Eminent domain became a national issue in 2005, when the Supreme Court ruled in the Kelo v. New London case to allow the city of New London, Conn., to seize Suzette Kelo's home in order to build a corporate park for the Pfizer pharmaceutical company. The case signaled one of the most prominent uses of the government's authority of eminent domain.

"I think that what you're going to see, and what you've seen already is the challenges at the state level," Anderson told Cybercast News Service.

"The federal constitution doesn't provide any protection, but we've seen a lot of activity at the state level, both through the legislature - 31 states have passed legislation aimed at restricting the abuse of eminent domain - and now you're seeing these ballot measures," he said.

"This issue is not a dead issue. It's one that is going to continue because it's one that literally hits home," Anderson said.

Voters in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon and South Carolina all backed measures limiting the government's powers of eminent domain.

The exceptions were California and Idaho, where measures that sought to limit eminent domain failed.

John Shirey, executive director of the California Redevelopment Association, touted California's defeat of the ballot measure as a victory.

"Obviously, we're very pleased we've defeated the one here in California, and if I can say so not very humbly, we think California is the bellwether for the country and so it was important to defeat the one here," he told Cybercast News Service.

Shirey called the measures "destructive" and argued that eminent domain was rarely used.

He said the states that have passed measures to limit eminent domain "are going to have problems with simple planning and land use regulation."

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