November 4th, 2009 — By — In News & Events

Texas votes to limit eminent domain

In Tuesday’s election, Texas voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of Proposition 11, a constitutional amendment limiting the state’s eminent domain powers. Prop 11 (H.J.R. 14, Article 1) limits the use of eminent domain for public use and specifically defines “public use” to specifically not include “the taking of private property for…transfer to a private entity for the purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenue purposes.” (See “Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments”, the Texas Legislative Council, pps. 27, 57-60.)

Although Prop 11 was supported by 81% of voters and backed by the Texas Farm Bureau, Governor Rick Perry and many other Texas politicians, some have argued that Prop 11 does not go far enough to strengthen private property rights and to curb eminent domain abuse. The President of the Texas Farm Bureau called the passage of Prop 11 “an important but incomplete victory” and argued that Texas eminent domain laws continue to favor the condemning authority. While, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison called yesterday’s vote a “first step” toward strengthening private property rights in Texas.

Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), a pro-private property and anti-toll organization, have argued that Prop 11 leaves loopholes open for condemnors to continue to abuse eminent domain and to condemn for “urban blight.” Further, the Institute for Justice has argued that Prop 11 “allows the state to give any entity—including private entities—the power of eminent domain.”

For more details about the passage of Prop 11 and other Texas constitutional amendments, see AP article by Kelly Shannon: Texans vote to limit state’s eminent domain powers.

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