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September 10th, 2015 — By — In News & Events

State Legislators Reconsidering Key Eminent Domain Issues in 2015

While the Keystone XL pipeline and other condemnation matters make national headlines, state lawmakers across the country are proposing legislation to protect property owners’ rights. In this article, we review four state legislative efforts that could reshape eminent domain law and property rights in 2015 and beyond.

California Considers Changes to Appraiser Standards

The California legislature has introduced a bill (AB-624) that would allow real estate appraisers to use standards other than the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. The proposed legislation is intended to modernize California’s appraisal regulations and is similar to Texas law as well as legislation being considered in several other states.

The new law would not apply to “federally related” activity, which raises a question as to whether it would allow for use of alternative appraisal standards in eminent domain proceedings. While intended to allow for flexibility to meet market and consumer demands, if it becomes law, AB-624 may lead to disputes among parties litigating real estate valuation.

Idaho Places New Limits on Exercise of Eminent Domain

On March 26 of this year, Idaho’s Governor signed Senate Bill 1044 into law, prohibiting the condemnation of private property for the construction of “trails, paths, greenways or other ways for walking, running, hiking, bicycling or equestrian use, unless adjacent to a highway, road or street.” The law amends Section 7-701A of the Idaho Code, placing these additional limitations on the State and local government’s use of eminent domain.

North Carolina Constitutional Amendment Proposed in Response to Kelo

North Carolina’s State House has proposed an amendment to the state’s constitution limiting the use of eminent domain in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Kelo v. City of New London. While the Court held in Kelo that the power of eminent domain can be used to take property from one private owner and transfer to new private owners for purposes of “economic development,” the proposed amendment would allow condemnation only for “public use” but not for “public benefit.”

The proposed amendment would also require that just compensation be paid to affected landowners and establishes the right to demand a jury trial. If both chambers approve, the measure will be placed on the ballot as a referendum in 2016.

Pennsylvania Considering Increase in Compensation for Displaced Property Owners

Pennsylvania legislators are considering a bill to amend the state’s eminent domain statutes increasing compensation provided to displaced property owners for moving and related expenses and replacement housing. House bill 1411 would increase the reimbursement for reestablishing a farm, nonprofit organization or small business at a new site from $12,000 to $25,000 and would increase the amount provided to homeowners from $27,000 to $31,000, under certain circumstances.

Contact an Owners’ Counsel of America Attorney for More Information

Lawyers with Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) represent property owners in eminent domain proceedings nationwide. For more information about condemnation law, or to speak with an attorney about your situation, locate a lawyer in your state.