New Eminent Domain Bill Passes House

New Eminent Domain Bill Passes House

The Private Property Rights Protection Act (H.R. 1443) was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on February 28.  The bipartisan legislation would prohibit federal, state and local governments that receive federal economic development funds from using eminent domain to acquire land for economic development purposes.  The act also gives private property owners the right to take legal action if provisions of the legislation are violated.

The bill was created to minimize the abuse of government’s condemnation power to use eminent domain for economic development.  More specific “public purpose” activities are not under the umbrella of the bill, including the construction of roads, hospital facilities, airports or military bases.

Powerful developers and other politically-connected people and companies are the ones that gain the most from the use of eminent domain for economic redevelopment; they are the ones that prosper at the expense of those who are poor or week.  Law makers say that support for the bill will even the playing field, giving the poor and minorities a chance.

The bill comes seven years after the controversial ruling in Kelo v. The City of New London, where the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of cities to use eminent domain to secure land for proposed private commercial development.  In response to the ruling, more than 40 states have amended their eminent domain laws, limiting their government’s power. 

An even more powerful eminent domain bill was approved by The House in 2006, but was never considered by the Senate.  The current bill will now move on to the Senate for consideration.