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house Bill H.R. 1689

Should Eminent Domain Not be Used by Federal or State Gov't for Economic Development Purposes?

Argument in favor

The use of eminent domain to make land more economically productive often harms minorities and lower-income communities. Moreover, using eminent domain to serve local economic interests runs counter to its historical use to take private property for highways and other public works.

SneakyPete's Opinion
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07/22/2018
H.R. 1689 - Private Property Rights Protection Act I STRONGLY support and recommend the passage of H.R. 1689 bill — known as the Private Property Rights Protection Act — Which would prohibit state and local governments from using eminent domain to condemn and acquire private property for economic development purposes. It’d also exclude states in violation of this prohibition from receiving federal economic development assistance for two fiscal years unless they’ve returned the property claimed under eminent domain, replaced any other property destroyed as a result of the eminent domain violation, and paid any applicable penalties and interest. The federal government would also be prohibited from using eminent domain for economic development purposes. The use of eminent domain to make land more economically productive often harms minorities and lower-income communities. Moreover, using eminent domain to serve local economic interests runs counter to its historical use to take private property for highways and other public works. 7*22*18 ....
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07/22/2018
Eminent domain is theft. It doesn't matter if you pay them, and it doesn't matter what you pay them. It doesn't matter if it's for a private corporation or for the government. It's a tool of tyrants. It is antithetical to freedom. Eminent domain IS immoral, and it SHOULD BE illegal in ALL instances.
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Mart's Opinion
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07/22/2018
Property is property, and using general welfare clause to take mine for higher taxation, is a little over the edge.
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Argument opposed

Many states have already amended their constitutions or enacted laws to directly or indirectly prohibit the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes. Additionally, current use of eminent domain for economic development purposes is limited and shouldn’t be curtailed.

Frances's Opinion
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07/22/2018
THIS BILL SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE-AND IF SOMETHING SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT USUALLY IS. THE FACT THAT IT WAS INTRODUCED BY A REPUBLICAN FROM WISCONSIN AND IS BACKED BY THE VERY CONSERVATIVE TEA PARTY FREEDOMWORKS SITE MAKES ME VERY SUSPICIOUS!
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Isadora's Opinion
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07/23/2018
This bill exempts religious and non profit properties from being subject to eminent domain. Some non profits should be protected but some religious institutions have ample resources. Tax payers should be protected more than religious organizations.
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jimsander's Opinion
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07/23/2018
“Blight” is a vague term but so is “economic development” – this bill needs to be much more clear to make abuse more difficult.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house Passed July 23rd, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Justice
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedMarch 22nd, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 1689?

This bill — known as the Private Property Rights Protection Act — would prohibit state and local governments from using eminent domain to condemn and acquire private property for economic development purposes. It’d also exclude states in violation of this prohibition from receiving federal economic development assistance for two fiscal years unless they’ve returned the property claimed under eminent domain, replaced any other property destroyed as a result of the eminent domain violation, and paid any applicable penalties and interest. The federal government would also be prohibited from using eminent domain for economic development purposes.

Both federal and state governments would be prohibited from exercising the power of eminent domain over a religious or other nonprofit organization’s property because of the organization’s nonprofit or tax-exempt status.

The bill would also establish a process for private property owners or tenants suffering injury as a result of eminent domain violations to seek cures. In such cases, individuals may either  bring private actions, or notify the Department of Justice (DOJ). In the latter case, DOJ would have to investigate notices of alleged violations, provide the government authority with 90 days to cure any violations that exist, and bring actions to enforce this bill if the government is still in violation after the 90-day period. In the case of private cases, DOJ must also act to intervene if necessary to enforce this bill.

In matters of eminent domain, this bill would: 1) waive state immunity in federal or state court, and (2) prohibit actions from being brought after a seven-year statute of limitations following the conclusion of any condemnation proceedings.

DOJ would be required to disseminate information to states and the public regarding: 1) property owners’ and tenants’ rights under this bill, and 2) the federal laws under which federal economic development funds are distributed.

Finally, if a court determines that an eminent domain violation had a disproportionate impact on the poor or minorities, the DOJ would have the responsibility to make efforts to locate the property’s former owners and tenants to inform them of the violation and any possible remedies.

Impact

States; minorities; eminent domain development; and DOJ.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1689

The CBO estimates that the additional reporting by the DOJ required in this bill would cost less than $500,000 per year. There are unlikely to be other changes to current spending affected by this bill, as state and local governments will likely try to avoid losing federal funds.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced this bill to to provide American citizens with the means to protect their private property from inappropriate claims of eminent domain:

“The freedom to own and protect one’s private property is foundational to our country. Congress must fight to protect the private property rights of Americans and reform the use and abuse of eminent domain… I’m hopeful this legislation will pass and restore the government’s power of eminent domain to its limited, proper role.”

Introducing an earlier version of his bill in 2013, Rep. Sensenbrenner also argued that eminent domain for public economic good is largely opposed by most Americans, and that eminent domain hurts rural communities:

“A large majority of Americans oppose the taking of private property for private uses, even if it is for the public economic good. Congress should fight to protect private property rights and reform the use and abuse of eminent domain. [Under Kelo], farmers in Wisconsin are particularly vulnerable. Farmland is less valuable than residential or commercial property, which means it doesn’t generate as much property tax as homes or offices. [Eliminating eminent domain for economic purposes] would restore the property rights the Supreme Court took away.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) opposes this bill on multiple grounds, including its necessity, potential effect on future developments, and constitutionality. In his remarks at the markup of the bill, he stated:

“To begin with, the bill is a response to Kelo v. City of New London, a now well-established 13-year-old Supreme Court decision to which most state legislatures have already reacted by curtailing their eminent domain authority. Worse yet, this measure could potentially devastate the finances of state and local governments. It also raises federalism concerns.”

This legislation has the support of two cosponsors,  including one Republican and one Democrat. This bill is supported by conservative and libertarian advocacy group FreedomWorks, whose President, Adam Brandon, said:

“The tyranny of eminent domain is one that threatens individual liberty, rural communities, and the economy of the United States. Rural America is the backbone of this country and agricultur[e] is the backbone of this economy. There is a moral argument to be made: hard-working Americans should not have to live in fear that their homes, farms, and businesses are susceptible to being taken by the government…. The cornerstone of liberty is the right to private property. Allowing the government to step in and take property on a whim for an alleged public good seems controversial to say the least, but letting the federal government transfer ownership of property from one private entity to another is unconstitutional.”

Of NoteEminent domain is based on the Fifth Amendment, and its early uses were primarily for public works — large-scale projects such as the Tennessee Valley Authority’s utilities or the post-WWII construction of the interstate highway system.

However, in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Berman v. Parker that private projects would meet eminent domain’s definition as long as they had a “public purpose.” Under this rationale, the court approved a slum-clearance plan of the government of Washington, D.C., and in the latter half of the 20th century eminent domain was used to clear “blighted” areas of American cities for redevelopment, turning poor neighborhoods into new developments. Over the past several decades, the definition of “blight” has become increasingly expansive, enabling governments to take habitable neighborhoods away in order to give them to private developers who promise increased tax revenue and jobs.

Since World War II, eminent domain has displaced some three to four million Americans. Additionally, eminent domain use disproportionately affects minorities, harming vulnerable communities and individuals.

While many states have enacted eminent domain reform since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo vs. City of New London, which broadly defined “public use,” most of these reform efforts have been insignificant. And, despite repeated efforts, Congress has yet to pass legislation limiting the use of eminent domain to truly public, rather than economic, uses (the Kelo decision maintained economic benefit as a potential “public use” case for eminent domain).

However, the magnitude of this problem may be minimal, even in the absence of a federal prohibition on using eminent domain for economic purposes. In a survey of officials in 153 municipalities with populations of greater than 100,000 residents, Jerold S. Kayden, professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, found that only 207 properties were taken between January 2000 and December 2004, representing an average of less than two properties per city in five years. Therefore, Kayden concluded, state condemnation of private property for promoting economic growth is uncommon in the United States.

Additionally, it isn’t clear that all uses of eminent domain for economic development purposes are inherently harmful. In the case of blight, the upgrading of rundown areas to build affordable housing is an appropriate use for eminent domain that increases the economic potential of an area.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: Feverpitched / iStock)

AKA

Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2017

Official Title

To protect private property rights.

    H.R. 1689 - Private Property Rights Protection Act I STRONGLY support and recommend the passage of H.R. 1689 bill — known as the Private Property Rights Protection Act — Which would prohibit state and local governments from using eminent domain to condemn and acquire private property for economic development purposes. It’d also exclude states in violation of this prohibition from receiving federal economic development assistance for two fiscal years unless they’ve returned the property claimed under eminent domain, replaced any other property destroyed as a result of the eminent domain violation, and paid any applicable penalties and interest. The federal government would also be prohibited from using eminent domain for economic development purposes. The use of eminent domain to make land more economically productive often harms minorities and lower-income communities. Moreover, using eminent domain to serve local economic interests runs counter to its historical use to take private property for highways and other public works. 7*22*18 ....
    Like (49)
    Follow
    Share
    THIS BILL SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE-AND IF SOMETHING SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT USUALLY IS. THE FACT THAT IT WAS INTRODUCED BY A REPUBLICAN FROM WISCONSIN AND IS BACKED BY THE VERY CONSERVATIVE TEA PARTY FREEDOMWORKS SITE MAKES ME VERY SUSPICIOUS!
    Like (43)
    Follow
    Share
    Eminent domain is theft. It doesn't matter if you pay them, and it doesn't matter what you pay them. It doesn't matter if it's for a private corporation or for the government. It's a tool of tyrants. It is antithetical to freedom. Eminent domain IS immoral, and it SHOULD BE illegal in ALL instances.
    Like (38)
    Follow
    Share
    Property is property, and using general welfare clause to take mine for higher taxation, is a little over the edge.
    Like (20)
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    Share
    Unless it’s for a known safety reason, like building a dam, the government should not be able to seize private property against the wishes of the landowner. Economic gain for a company should not be a reason. I know eminent domain was used by the current President to build a casino in Atlantic City, and the casino went into bankruptcy, leaving the local government with a useless property while the previous landowners were forced out. A sad situation all around. This should not be repeated.
    Like (18)
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    Restrain eminent domain
    Like (13)
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    Yes - a 1000 times yes. Eminent domain laws are abused by corrupt politicians. And to add insult to injury - the guvmint tells you what your land is worth!
    Like (12)
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    This bill exempts religious and non profit properties from being subject to eminent domain. Some non profits should be protected but some religious institutions have ample resources. Tax payers should be protected more than religious organizations.
    Like (11)
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    This sounds like one of those " Trick" questions that we had in grade school. The question is "Should eminent domain "NOT" be used ........? The operative word is "NOT" so if you want to vote against "Eminent Domain", you want to vote "YEA"
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    This should include stopping the use of eminent domain for pipelines (any kind) as well.
    Like (10)
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    Eminent domain is supposed to be for the purpose of government projects that couldn't be done without it - roads, bridges, canals all fit that criterion. e
    Like (8)
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    Eminent domain and asset forfeiture for people not convicted of crimes is police state theft and corruption and its worst.
    Like (7)
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    Walmart is bad about getting a state or local government to condemn a piece of prime property so that it can be sold to them really cheap so they can build a damn store to sell us more crap we don't want and the person whom they stole it from gets pennies on the dollar for the property! This is wrong!!
    Like (6)
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    It shouldn't be used for any purpose. It's private property!
    Like (6)
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    Eminent domain is theft.
    Like (6)
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    Yes. It should Not be possible for our government to buy property for cents on the dollar to accommodate a project. Republicans aren’t u all about the government staying out of your business?
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    My family lost their entire ranch because of Eminent Domain. My aunt & uncle lost a large chunk of their ranch to it also. This hits close to home. Absolutely needs to end. ALSO!!!! All you people who are bitching about Republicans & Trump on this need to read some of the fine print. This bill was sponsored by a Republican. We are the ones who want to stay out of your business. And want Less Govt interference in you lives. Let it go.
    Like (5)
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    There are already laws in place for eminent domain. Also, do not let 45 and his development cronies benefit from one more thing. Drain the swamp by getting rid of these greedy republican dweebs. Votes blue!
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    I don’t believe in taking private land away from its owners so someone else can make money. If it’s not illegal then it should be. I also do not believe taking private land to build a useless wall should be allowed. Private citizens should have the same rights to their property they had when they purchased/ received the property and not something added on after the fact.
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    Eminent domain should not be used by developers to grab land conveniently located for them. This abuse is nothing more than “legal” theft. If it’s worth so much then offer to pay the owners the real price and accept their decision.
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