Property rights protected?


POSTED: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 6:20pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 7:21pm

The Texas Legislature has gone into special session to take care of unfinished business, like the budget.
But the regular session produced some consumer protections for landowners.
Eminent Domain is the 900 pound gorilla in the room for Texas landowners.
And until now, you could have your property taken by local government or some private companies.
And there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Well, KETK has learned that no matter what Austin says…that can still happen.
But some folks, like the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, are very happy with the new protections written into law.
“It requires a public and a record vote to initiate eminent domain proceedings, and an entity to make a bona fide offer. Things are real important to us,” says association President Joe Parker who feels it gives them more weapons to fight eminent domain.
Terri Hall of Texans United for Reform and Freedom, does not.
“As long as the government can take your land and give it to someone else for personal gain, and for private profit, we really don’t own anything or have property rights in this statem,” she says.
She worries that the very things that have worried landowners here in East Texas, the desire to build toll roads just like the defunct Trans Texas corridor and pipelines like the Keystone XL being bult by Transcanada that is snaking its way through the US and down to Houston, all of these can still happen.
“Absolutely,” Hall replies, “the Keystone Pipeline and other tarsands pipelines that are planned through other parts of Texas. And these oil companies were the ones that actually had a seat at the table and were brokering the deals that were made behind closed doors before the session ever began.”
Hall says though that with Democrats for the first time voting with Republicans on the eminent domain bill, there’s no one left to turn to.
“And what’s sad is that the good provisions of this bill were stripped out by the Texas Municipal League and the Texas Association of counties.,” she said. “Your local units of government that are out, on the taxpayer dime, lobbying against the taxpayers for your property rights to be eroded.”


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