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TFB president urges real change on eminent domain

The president of the state’s largest farm organization called on Governor Rick Perry to sign legislation that truly reforms the state’s archaic eminent domain reform process.

“Signing a meaningful bill—one that addresses compensation—would restore much of his reputation as a defender of property rights,” Kenneth Dierschke told a gathering of Farm Bureau leaders in Austin.

Perry vetoed House Bill 2006, landmark eminent domain reform legislation that was overwhelmingly passed by both the Texas House and Senate during the last legislative session. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House this session and is also expected in the Senate.

Dierschke applauded the governor’s recent statements on eminent domain reform. He said the governor's talk of good faith offers in eminent domain proceedings was positive, as well as the governor’s support for giving this issue the power of a Constitutional amendment.

Conspicuously missing from the governor’s remarks on eminent domain, however, is the issue of compensation, he said.

“He has not yet said anything about compensation for lost property value when takings reduce access to a property,” Dierschke said.

The TFB president said property owners are often left out of the debate over just compensation for their land because they lack the resources to fight expensive legal battles with condemning authorities. Basic protections such as requirements for good faith negotiations, and compensation for all factors a buyer and seller would normally consider, are also missing from current law.

Dierschke welcomed the governor’s support on this property rights issue, but acknowledged Farm Bureau “won’t be happy and silent with a ‘half loaf’ on this vital issue.”

“The goal is exactly the same as we’ve talked about before,” Dierschke said. “We need to get a bill passed, early in the session, with ample time to override a veto—if it comes to that.”

TAGS: Legislative
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