Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Berger: Senate Leadership refuses to allow discussion on Eminent Domain

Click here for State Senator Minority Leader Phil Berger's statement, as reported by The North Carolina Conservative.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Legislature passes watered down eminent domain reform

Both legislative chambers have now passed a bill aimed at preventing governments from using eminent domain authority to seize private property for economic development purposes. Unfortunately, the legislature refused to consider the only solution that will stand the test of time: an amendment to the state constitution.

State Senator Neal Hunt (R-Wake) had this to say about the legislation that passed: "A judge can still overrule the law and allow property to be taken for public purpose," said Hunt, R-Wake. "That's a scary thing."

Shanahan Letter to the Editor: Constitutional Amendment Needed

The following is the text of a letter to the editor from Kieran Shanahan, Chairman of the N.C. Property Rights Coalition (pictured at right). Kieran's letter has appeared in numerous newspapers throughout North Carolina.

Constitutional Amendment Needed to Protect Private Property

On Tuesday, a State House Committee refused to even hear a bill calling for a constitutional amendment to prevent government from using eminent domain authority to take our private property for economic development purposes. Instead of allowing this important bill to be heard, it was sent to the Rules Committee to die without fair consideration. The legislators who voted to kill this important bill would have you believe that legislation passed earlier during this session ensures that our private property is safe from the long arm of eminent domain; nothing could be further from the truth. That legislation is a mere band-aid, and it does not provide North Carolinians with the level of protection we deserve. Legislatures come and go, and laws can easily be changed. That’s why we need a state Constitutional amendment to ensure that North Carolinians’ private property is safe from eminent domain abuse. Please contact your legislator and encourage them to support this amendment if it comes before the House.

Kieran Shanahan, Chairman N.C. Property Rights Coalition

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Property rights are the building block upon which the entire structure of liberty rests"

California Assemblyman Ray Haynes had this to say in a recent op/ed:

"Property rights are the keystone to liberty. For those of you who are not architects, the keystone is the part of old buildings (particularly tall ones) upon which all the structure relied. If the keystone broke or collapsed, the entire structure would collapse. Protecting the keystone, therefore, was very important to the strength and stability of those buildings.

"In the same way, property rights are the building block upon which the entire structure of liberty rests. If government does not protect property rights, all other freedoms are meaningless. How can that be, you ask?"

Click here for the full column

Scott Mooneyham: Why Political Columnists Can Grow Cynical

Reprinted with permission.

Why Political Columnists Can Grow Cynical

Every once in a while, I start to think that maybe I'm just too cynical, too quick to look for that self-serving angle when it comes to the world of politics.

Then something happens to bring me back to my senses: The rest of the world just isn't cynical enough.

One of those moments of clarity hit a few weeks ago when the state House approved a measure that would bar local governments from using condemnation proceedings for economic development purposes.

knew that several House members, especially among the backbench Republican crowd, wanted more than a just a rewrite of state statutes. After all, a simple change of statute by one legislature can easily be undone by a future legislature

After last year's landmark Kelo v. City of New London, Conn., decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, only an amendment to the state constitution would truly bar state or local government from any future property seizures in the name of economic development.

Still, the House took up a bill to ban the practice in statute. After an overwhelming vote in favor, I approached some of the chamber's Republicans to inquire about why they hadn't attempted to amend the legislation to include a constitutional amendment.

Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, a Wake County Republican, smiled and said it was coming. He had a bill calling for a constitutional change. More than 80 of his House colleagues had signed on.

He was confident.

I failed to ask him why in the world he believed that House leaders would pursue what amounts to a superfluous change of statute if a constitutional amendment was in the works.

Oh, cynical me.

Fast-forward a few weeks: A House judiciary committee sends Stam's amendment bill off to a subcommittee for more "study," a sure indicator that someone high up on the legislative food chain doesn't like it. Then, without any subcommittee action, the committee dumps it in the House Rules Committee.

"To me, that sounds like sudden death, and they are going to throw it in the well," says Rep. George Holmes, R-Yadkin, another supporter.


Of course, documenting the legislation's path to bill purgatory doesn't explain why a constitutional change, which appears to enjoy plenty of support among the public, hasn't flown through the legislature.

Among the possible explanations:

-- The North Carolina League of Municipalities doesn't like it, fearing that a debate over a constitutional amendment may open up the state's current condemnation procedures to further tightening. And once tightened in the constitution, reversing the change would be next to impossible.

-- A constitutional amendment would have to be approved by voters. Democrats control the legislature, and they worry that putting the measure on the ballot will energize conservatives and pump up their turnout at the polls.

Some people might say those explanations represent a pretty cynical view of the legislature.

Yes, guilty as charged.

Scott Mooneyham writes for Capitol Press Association. Contact him at smooneyh@ncinsider.com.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Shanahan: Eminent Domain Bill "Watered Down"

RALEIGH – Kieran Shanahan, Chairman of the N. C. Property Rights Coalition, today commented on House Bill 1965, which is scheduled to be heard by the N.C. Senate’s Judiciary I Committee this evening.

“Sadly, House Bill 1965 does not provide North Carolinians with adequate protection against eminent domain abuse,” Shanahan said. “Legislatures change, and any protection offered by House Bill 1965 can be easily undone by the whims of a future legislature. The people of our state deserve more than this watered-down bill; they deserve constitutional protection that will stand the test of time. That’s why we need an amendment to the state constitution to protect our private property from eminent domain abuse.”

“Just last month, the House Judiciary 3 Committee refused to hear a bill calling for an amendment to the state constitution to prevent governments from using eminent domain authority to take land for private economic development projects,” Shanahan added. “The bill was sent to the House Rules Committee to die without fair consideration.”

“The people of North Carolina deserve better. North Carolinians need more than a smokescreen – we need the kind of real protection provided by a constitutional amendment. Once again, I call on the members of the North Carolina General Assembly to do what is right by allowing our citizens to vote on a constitutional amendment to protect our private property from eminent domain abuse.”

Saturday, July 08, 2006

City files Eminent Domain against church in Lubbock, TX

City Files Eminent Domain Against Lubbock Church

Lubbock, TX -- A local pastor says his church could be forced to shut down if the city gets what it wants.

The city has been planning for years to widen 50th Street west of Slide Road to seven lanes. In order to do that, they need some land from the Faith Assembly of God Church.

Earlier this week, the city filed eminent domain proceedings, and the church congregation says it`s just not right.

The city determined the church would only lose about six-square-feet of its sanctuary in the deal, so they offered the church $250,000.

The pastor of the church, Terry Nesmith, says he couldn`t accept the offer because the church would actually lose 30-feet.

"There`s just no way we can replace what we`re losing with ($250,000)," he says.

Click here for the full article from KAMC 28

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

National Taxpayers' Union to N.C. Legislators: A Constitutional Amendment is needed to prevent Eminent Domain Abuse

Below is the text of a letter distributed to members of the North Carolina General Assembly by the National Taxpayers' Union (NTU). In their letter, the NTU says "Eminent domain abuse is a looming threat to North Carolina property owners, and we ask you to act now to avoid future cases of improper takings." The letter is also posted here.

Text of the Letter:

Dear Legislator:

On behalf of the more than 10,700 North Carolina members of the National Taxpayers Union, I urge you to pass the strongest possible prohibition against using eminent domain powers for economic development. While the main statutory response (HB1965) to the eminent domain debate does offer some protection by narrowing the definition of “public use” to exclude economic development, we are concerned that any exemption for “blight” could be abused by localities intent on taking private property for development purposes. At the end of the day, a Constitutional Amendment would provide better protection against the rationale used in the Kelo v. New London case to justify forced private to private transfers of property. Eminent domain abuse is a looming threat to North Carolina property owners, and we ask you to act now to avoid future cases of improper takings.

In June of 2005, the nation’s highest court held that the city of New London, Connecticut was justified in seizing the property of Susette Kelo and her fellow homeowners on behalf of another private party. Despite the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against taking private property for public use without just compensation, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Kelo permits the use of eminent domain for private to private transfers as long as government officials have a “plan” and believe that there will be some economic benefit from the taking. Thankfully, taxpayers still have some recourse, as the ruling stated, “nothing in our opinion precludes any State from placing further restrictions on its exercise of the takings power.”

Taxpayers must now rely on elected state officials to provide protection against misuse of eminent domain powers. While HB1965 offers some additional protection for property owners, we cannot lose sight of the fact that placing a statutory patch on such a critical problem is not a lasting policy solution. North Carolinians deserve a Constitutional Amendment that establishes a strict definition of “public use.”

We hope that you will help us defend the American Dream by passing an amended bill that removes blight loopholes, but we trust that you will soon take up a Constitutional Amendment that will properly enshrine the property rights of North Carolinians.


Kristina Rasmussen
Senior Government Affairs Manager

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happy Independence Day from the N.C. Property Rights Coalition

Dear Fellow Property Rights Supporter,

On behalf of the N.C. Property Rights Coalition, I wish you and yours a safe and happy Fourth of July.

As you celebrate our nation's independence, please take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices our forefathers made on behalf of our great nation.

Without the sacrifices made by our nation's founding fathers, we would not have our freedom.

Our founding fathers understood that private property is one of the cornerstones of a free society. That's why the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution reinforces the notion of private property rights.

As you celebrate during this Fourth of July holiday, please take time to give thanks for our freedom and reflect on the fundamental importance of private property rights. We are the stewards of the freedom purchased by our founding fathers' sacrifices, and it is incumbent upon us to remain vigilant in defending those liberties.

Again, I wish you and yours a safe and happy Independence Day.


Kieran Shanahan