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Coalition unites to fix SB 18 Fails to protect landowners from eminent domain for private gain

Austin, TX,- The Texas Senate passed a fast-tracked ’emergency’ eminent domain bill, SB 18, with little time for public scrutiny and input, but a coalition of groups have united to fix the loopholes in the House version including: TURF, Selous Foundation (Washington-based property rights group), TexPIRG (public interest consumer advocacy group), Public Citizen (non-profit consumer interest group), and concerned citizens Virginia Simonson and Mellany Lamb (residents of Flower Mound concerned with oil & gas issues), and Anne Markham (whose family has land in the path of one of the proposed Trans Texas Corridors).

The House Land & Resource Management Committee is expected to take up eminent domain bills Monday, March 7.

WHAT: Press conference on pending eminent domain legislation
WHO: Terri Hall (TURF), Ryan Rittanaur (Public Citizen), Melissa Cubria (TexPIRG), Virginia Simonson and Mellany Lamb (residents of Flower Mound), and Anne Markham (landowner in path of Trans Texas Corridor)
WHEN: Wednesday, March 2 @ 9:30 AM
WHERE: South Capitol Steps, Texas State Capitol, Austin, TX
WHY: To get lawmakers to pass a bill that gives genuine property rights protection

Many feel the bill, SB 18, doesn’t go far enough since it still fails to protect to landowners from Kelo-style abuses (ie – blight, economic development, foreign-owned toll roads).

Other concerns with SB 18:

    Doesn’t adequately define key terms like “bonafide offer,” “blight,” “public use” or “private benefit” leaving it open to litigation to determine what these arbitrary definitions mean
    Fails to restrict eminent domain for economic development in the name of a “public use,” like the Grand Pkwy tollway to benefit ExxonMobil instead of for a legitimate public necessity
    Doesn’t protect landowners from wrongful takings and instead gives them loophole-laden remedies AFTER their land has already been condemned

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