April 13th, 2011 — By — In News & Events

Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2011

Yesterday, Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) introduced H.R. 1433, the “Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2011.” This bipartisan bill prohibits states and municipalities from using eminent domain for private development if they have received federal economic development funds. H.R. 1433 also prohibits the federal government from using eminent domain for economic development, the taking of private property and transferring of it to another private entity in order to increase tax revenue, jobs or for general economic growth. Importantly, the bill continues to permit eminent domain for traditional public uses such as public utilities, roads and post offices, and would also allow local officials to remove properties that pose an immediate threat to public health and safety and put abandoned property to productive use.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Kelo v. City of New London, a nearly identical bill was introduced in 2005 and passed the House by an overwhelming vote of 376-38. The Senate, however, never voted on the passage of the 2005 bill.

Dana Berliner, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which litigated in defense of the homeowners in the Kelo case, testified in favor of H.R. 1433 before the House Judiciary Subcommitee on the Constitution. Ms. Berliner was joined by Lori Ann Vendetti, a homeowner from Long Branch, N.J., who spent years battling to save her home and her parents’ home from condemnation for a high-end condominium project. An excerpt from Berliner’s testimony to the House Committee is below.

“In this economy, Congress does not need to be sending scarce economic development funds to projects that not only abuse eminent domain and strip hard-working, tax-paying homeowners and small businesses of their constitutional rights, but that may ultimately fail. Let New London be a lesson: After $80 million in taxpayer money spent, years tied up in litigation and a disastrous U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the neighborhood is now a barren field home to nothing but feral cats. The developer abandoned the project, and Pfizer—whom the project was intended to benefit—also left New London.”

The Institute for Justice and Castle Coalition are calling upon property rights supporters to express support for H.B. 1433 by registering with the Castle Coalition here. Upon registering, supporters will receive a free Castle Coalition pen and sticker. If you recruit others to sign up and they indicate that you referred them, you will also receive a free “End Eminent Domain Abuse” t-shirt!

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