Texas Senate Passes Eminent Domain Reform Bill

Texas Farm Bureau President applauds the passage of Senate Bill 18

Online PR News – 07-May-2009 – – (WACO) – The resolution of issues by the Texas Senate should clear a rocky road for legislation that offers true reform of Texas eminent domain laws, said Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke.
“Senate Bill 18 by Senator Craig Estes offers balance to the current eminent domain process which gives an unfair advantage to condemning entities over landowners,” Dierschke said of the legislation that passed the Texas Senate by a 31-0 margin on May 4. “This legislation includes the top priorities of Texas Farm Bureau’s fight for true reform: prohibiting condemnation of land for private use, a requirement for good faith negotiations, and fair compensation provisions. This bill offers excellent protections for property owners in Texas.”
Experts cite the issue of diminished access as the reason reform failed in the last legislative session. Although the controversial term “diminished access” isn’t included in SB 18, the intent of principles sought by the Texas Farm Bureau is.

“This bill allows property owners who lose part of their property due to condemnation to be compensated for loss of direct access to the remaining property if its value is decreased,” Dierschke said. “That was one of our top priorities for any reform legislation.”
SB 18 also defines “direct access” as entering or exiting a public road, street or highway at location/locations where the remaining property adjoins that road, street or highway.
Other highlights of SB 18, which now goes to the House for consideration, include the following:
• Spells out objective criteria for courts to follow to determine good faith negotiations. Requires condemning entities to follow those criteria, or risk paying attorney fees and court costs for the landowner.
• Creates a “Truth in Condemnation Procedures Act” which requires a bona fide offer in writing. Requires any condemnation procedure to be done in public and by a record vote.
• Allows a property owner or their heirs to repurchase condemned property, at the original price paid for the property, if it is not utilized for public use after a 10 year period.
• Requires all condemning entities to register with the state Comptroller. This will give the state a handle on how many and the kinds of entities having eminent domain power.
• All of these provisions apply to all entities, not just governmental entities.
The state’s largest farm organization has pushed for meaningful reform of eminent domain laws over the last two legislative sessions.
“Although we were discouraged when eminent domain reform wasn’t realized last session, Texas Farm Bureau’s grassroots efforts have kept this issue alive,” Dierschke said. “Now, with the Senate passage of SB 18, we will focus our full attention on the Texas House.”
Dierschke praised Sen. Estes, Sen. Glenn Hegar and Senate State Affairs Committee Chairman Robert Duncan for crafting a bill acceptable to the Senate. The farm leader said it is imperative that the House move quickly to pass this important legislation.
“Time is quickly winding down on the 81st Legislature,” Dierschke said. “Property owners insist that meaningful reform of eminent domain laws not be lost in the legislative shuffle.”

About The Texas Farm Bureau

The Texas Farm Bureau works to provide a voice for Texas farmers, ranchers, rural citizens and everyone interested in preserving and protecting this way of life. More on the Web at:
Texas Farm Bureau website
TFB Eminent Domain website
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