Thursday, April 26, 2007

HB 878 (Eminent Domain Amendment) NOT on Rules Committee's Agenda for May 1

The House Rules Committee -- the one in which House Bill 878 (eminent domain amendment) is stuck -- is meeting on May 1. Their agenda, as distributed via e-mail by Rules Clerk Dot Crocker this morning, is below. As you can see, HB 878 is not on the agenda for the meeting, lending further credence to the idea that the legislative leadership is intent on killing this amendment without allowing to to come to the floor for a vote.


2007-2008 SESSION

You are hereby notified that the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House will meet as follows:

DAY & DATE: Tuesday, May 1, 2007

TIME: 12:30 p.m.


COMMENTS: The following bills will be considered:

HB 1341 Thalian Assoc./NC Community Theatre. Representative McComas Representative Justice Representative Wright

HJR 1437 Honor Town of Goldston. Representative Love, Sr.

HJR 1796 Observe Real Estate Commission's Anniversary. Representative Howard Representative Owens, Jr. Representative Brubaker Representative Goforth

SJR 1035 April as Landscape Architect Month. Senator Queen


Representative Owens, Chair

I hereby certify this notice was filed by the committee assistant at the following offices at 12:15 p.m.o’clock on April 26, 2007.

X Principal Clerk
X Reading Clerk – House Chamber

Dot Crocker (Rules Clerk)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Act Today: Tell the Legislative Leadership to bring HB 878 up for a vote

The following is the text of an email from Kieran Shanahan, Chairman of the N.C. Property Rights Coalition:

If you share my belief that private property is a fundamental right of Americans, please take action TODAY.

On March 15, a bipartisan bill to protect our private property from unjust seizure by governments was introduced in the N.C. House. Four days later this bill, HB 878, was referred to the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House. It is still stuck in that committee.

House Bill 878 has a total of 96 sponsors and co-sponsors. This means that 80% of House members have signed onto this legislation. 80% of House members have sponsored HB 878 -- and yet the legislative leadership has not brought it to the floor for a vote.

Please take action TODAY by contacting key House leaders.Please contact the legislative leaders below and tell them House Bill 878 deserves a vote on the House floor. Please be respectful and professional as you exercise your right to make your voice heard. Click on the House member's name for a link that includes their contact information. You can contact them via e-mail, phone, and/or U.S. Mail.

Rep. Joe Hackney, Speaker of the House

Rep. Bill Owens, Chair of the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House. Rep. Owens is listed as a co-sponsor of HB 878.

Rep. Rick Glazier.
Vice Chair of the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.

Rep. Dewey Hill.
Vice Chair of the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House. Rep. Hill is listed as a co-sponsor of HB 878.

Rep. Paul Luebke.
Vice Chair of the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.

Rep. Deborah Ross.
Vice Chair of the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

Click here for a complete list of committee members, with links to their contact information.

Please take action TODAY by c
ontacting your House member: Use the links below to find out which district you are in and obtain your representative's contact information. Contact them and tell them to tell Speaker Hackney that House Bill 878 deserves a vote on the House floor.

The House leadership would have us believe that a legislative solution is good enough to protect our private property rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. Legislatures change, and a legislative solution can easily be changed by those elected in the future. We need a constitutional amendment that will stand the test of time. Simply put, our private property rights are too important to trust to the whims of future legislators.

Please take action TODAY and make your voice heard.

As citizens, we must unite to protect our private property rights. Now is the time to make your voice heard.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Property Rights Bills -- Bottled Up in Committee?

It appears that the legislative leadership is again attempting to stop any efforts to allow North Carolinians to vote on an amendment to prevent eminent domain abuse. Eminent Domain amendments have been introduced in both chambers. Neither bill has come to a vote; they are stuck in committee.

The House version of the bill, HB 878, has 96 sponsors and co-sponsors. There are 120 members in the House, meaning that 80% of House Members have signed onto this legislation. 80% of House members have signed onto this bill, yet it has still not come up for a vote.

This is an important issue. Property rights are one of the fundamental rights of a free society. A supermajority of House members have signed onto this bill. It deserves to be heard.

Friday, April 13, 2007

N.C. Court of Appeals Amplified Annexation Ruling

From Carolina Journal Online:

Case involving Weddington elaborates on minimum services required

By Michael Lowrey
April 13, 2007

RALEIGH — In a recent ruling, the state’s second highest court upheld an annexation by the Union County town of Weddington, holding that the provision of increased police protection by itself is enough to allow for annexation.

The Weddington case amplified a landmark decision issued in early 2006, when the N.C. Supreme Court held that municipalities must provide actual services of benefit to landowners they wish to annex. The high court, however, didn’t define what qualified as the minimum services necessary to allow for annexation. more...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Vast Majority of House, including Democrats, Support Private Property Protection Amendment

Release from Rep. Paul Stam:

Republican leaders in the General Assembly chided the Democratic majority, Tuesday, for delays in considering a state constitutional amendment strictly limiting government power to take land for other than a “public purpose.”

“When there’s a consensus, that’s the time to act,” said House Republican Leader Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Wake). Ninety Six sponsors have signed on to House Bill 878, which would send offer voters an amendment to the constitution. Nationwide, the fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. New London, in 2005, has inspired states to reaffirm protections for private property by setting limits on eminent domain.

In Kelo, the High Court ruled, in certain cases, local governments can exercise eminent domain to seize private property and resell the land for a private purpose. House Bill 878 could restrict this practice in North Carolina and join other states in offering a jury trial in disputes.

In 2006, the General Assembly passed legislation to revoking a number of local exceptions granting a few cities the authority to exercise eminent domain for private purposes. Stam said the lack of constitutional limits would inevitably lead to attempts to grant similar exceptions again, “one year or four years from now.”

House Bill 878 has ninety-six of one hundred twenty House Members as sponsors, including two-thirds of House Democrats. Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said the bill languishing in committee, despite overwhelming bipartisan support, illustrates the concentration of power in the hands of a few and how it can be used to thwart the will of the majority through a majority of their elected representatives. All but one House Republican and two-thirds of House Democrats are co-sponsors of the proposed amendment.

Stam and Berger also cited a study released by the Institute of Justice indicating African Americans suffered a disproportionate effect from the exercise of eminent domain.

Eminent Domain & African Americans: What is the Price of the Commons?

Berger, Stam: Eminent Domain Reform Needed

Eminent Domain reform was the primary topic of this morning's press conference by N.C. House Minority Leader Paul Stam and N.C. Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger. Below is a press release from Sen. Berger's office.

Eminent Domain: Press Release from Sen. Phil Berger's Office

Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger (R-District 26) and House Republican Leader Paul Stam (R-District 37) today held a press conference to discuss eminent domain, the inherent power of government to seize a citizen's private property without consent. A recent United States Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. New London, created much concern because the Court expanded the concept of a "public purpose" for which condemnation could be used. The Court held that the United States Constitution's Fifth Amendment did not protect private property owners from a government taking of property for economic development purposes. An economic development condemnation permits the taking of property from a private citizen with the understanding that such property would ultimately be conveyed by the government to another and is justified by the expectation of greater tax revenue to the government. In light of that decision, many states took steps to insure that state constitutions offered protection to owners of private property from such takings. Republican Senate and House members have introduced bills that address the need for additional legal and constitutional safeguards in North Carolina.

Senator Fred Smith (R-District 12) has introduced Senate Bill 38, An Act to Amend the Constitution of North Carolina to Prohibit Eminent Domain From Being Used for Economic Development Purposes. The bill calls for amendment of the North Carolina Constitution to prohibit eminent domain takings for economic development purposes.

Senator Berger introduced Senate Bill 766; that bill protects non-profit organizations whose property is condemned. The bill provides that replacement value is an appropriate measure of fair market value in cases involving property owned by not for profit entities.

Senator Eddie Goodall (R-District 35) introduced Senate Bill 704, Eminent Domain Attorneys' Fees/Costs, which requires the condemnor to pay attorneys’ fees and costs of court if the final judgment is more than the amount deposited (offered) by the condemnor.

Senator Berger made the following statement:

“The people of North Carolina were right to be concerned about the Kelo decision. Thus far, the General Assembly has responded with half measures which fail to adequately protect private property. This is in spite of the fact that individual members state their opposition to a Kelo like result here. In fact, in the House ninety-six members have co-sponsored a bill (House Bill 878) that would allow North Carolinians to vote to amend the State Constitution and prohibit economic development condemnations. Despite protestations to the contrary and assurances that Democrat leaders have learned lessons from the past, not much has changed as Democrat legislative leaders appear to be in no hurry to move the bill from the House Rules Committee. Some have asserted that enough was done last year to protect private property. Such actions and hollow assurances are seen by many as evidence that the post-Black Democrat leadership handles popular legislation much like its predecessor. People have to wonder which special interest is being protected in this case. In my view, the Legislature has a responsibility to protect private citizens not special interests.”