Wednesday, July 08, 2009

From Under the Dome: Annexation bill sent off the floor

A bill meant to change the way cities and towns annex property owners is headed back to committee. more...

Emergency Alert from StopNCAnnexation

The following was distributed yesterday by Catherine Heath of StopNCAnnexation:


House Bill 524 is on the House Calendar for tomorrow (today, Wednesday, July 8) to be moved forward to passage!!

Listen tomorrow at 3 pm online:

Please call your legislator tonight and tomorrow and tell them you oppose this bill and want them to vote against it.

Find contact info for your legislator:

House Bill 524 is the HOUSE VERSION OF THE RAND/League BILL S472!!

Remember; those are the League approved bills.
524 complements S472.

Pay no attention to the wailing coming from the League of Municipalities about the vote amendment.

The NCLM is play acting the part they are expected to play.

This Bill is a disaster for real reform and the vote amendment added to it is a cruel joke on us.

The standards for a valid petition to get a vote are close to impossible to meet and, if met, to win against a tax funded municipal campaign by and for the city to win.

What 524 changes in the services requirements will mean higher costs for the victims of forced annexation, not the relief from the financial burdens of forced annexation that we all have asked for.

We need to help the Senate have the freedom to come up with a better bill, and a victory for Rand’s bill would smother that.

Rand is trying to dominate the conversation in the Senate by getting H524 passed out of the House!

He’ll do anything to make that happen, and if the grassroots does not oppose H524, he is succeeding.

That will hobble any chance we have to get a better bill out of the Senate.

And get ready for any vote provision in H524 to disappear once 524 gets to the Senate; _but H524 will NOT disappear.

That is why H524 needs to DIE!

This battle is far from over! The Senate has just begun to work on an annexation reform bill.

Don’t let Tony Rand and the League mess this up!!

If we do not oppose H524, then we will be waiting for many years to come to see real annexation reform. The League approved bills are good for the cities with nothing good for us.

Don’t let those working against us succeed in dividing the grassroots.

Please read the following letter from Ron Thoreson, one of the founders of StopNCAnnexation:

To all who are Grass Roots Annexation Reform believers and workers:

I, Ron Thoreson, am one of the founders of the grassroots effort to change the North Carolina Annexation Laws.

From the beginning, it has always been the true grass roots citizen’s goal to get real annexation reform using a bipartisan approach for reform from our North Carolina Legislative Representatives.

In observing much information from all the recent committee meetings and developments, with different bills and amendments being tossed about, it is critical for all in the current grass roots movement to watch closely for one thing, and that is partisan posturing, deal making and finger pointing.

No one party will make true reform of the North Carolina annexation laws. I am sad to see that some political partisan leaders are now claiming that changes in partisan representation are the only answer to true reform. It is not.

Tell those who are making such claims that they need to work across the aisle, for us, to show others that true reform is defined as being real reform, not some useless legislation that may claim to offer a vote, but stacks all the requirements of getting such vote against the will of the people seeking to have a voice and a vote in the process

Tell your legislators that the only reform is to effectively represent the people they are tasked to serve and give them a real voice and a balanced playing field when it comes to a municipalities desire to annex.

Beware of the partisan and power games that are being played over this subject in the NC Legislature right now. There are power groups on both sides of the aisle that are jockeying to create meaningless legislation that offers no real reform. If left to this outcome, the result will be that annexation laws will not have a chance to be changed again for a minimum of five years.

Ellis Hankins of the North Carolina League of Municipalities argued against annexation reform legislation for years after the bogus 1998 “annexation reform study”, saying that 'such was done and did not need to be done again'. Hankins got his way until this year, 2009…..11 years.

Grassroots workers; don’t be duped into living with a bill that is meaningless! And don’t be duped into an excuse that one partisan group is to blame over the other.

Keep up the fight! Demand nothing less than true reform!

Ron Thoreson,
Co-Founder, StopNCAnnexation

Status of the Eminent Domain Amendment

The State House voted yesterday to send House Bill 1268, a proposed amendment to the state constitution to ban eminent domain abuse, back to the Judiciary II Committee.

More on this:

More on the eminent domain amendment (blog post by Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation)

Under the Dome: Domain bill condemned to committee

Eminent Domain: The Biggest Property Rights Issue Deserves the Right Solution

The following was released earlier this week by The John Locke Foundation:

This week, the North Carolina House is expected to consider a constitutional amendment (H B 1268) to address eminent domain abuse. While the House should be commended for taking up this crucial issue, the proposed amendment is a cure worse than the disease. Through some minor changes though, this amendment could offer real protection.

The Latest Amendment

“Private property shall not be taken by eminent domain except for a public use. Public use does not include the taking of property in order to convey an interest in the property for economic development. This paragraph does not apply to the taking of physically blighted properties as defined by general law, nor to takings for access to property. Just compensation shall be paid and, if demanded, shall be determined by a jury."

The Problems with the Amendment

I. Blight Abuse

This amendment would expressly allow economic development takings so long as the property is “physically blighted.” The problem is that “physically blighted” can mean almost anything (e.g. an unattractive house, an old building, a home that is outdated, etc).

By not properly defining blight, the amendment would give the green light for abusing blight (urban renewal) laws to seize private property for economic development. It would actually undermine statutory protections the legislature put in place a few years ago to address the abuse of blight laws. Here’s what others have said about the abuse of blight laws to seize private property:

Indeed, the displacement of African-Americans and urban renewal projects are so intertwined that “urban renewal” was often referred to as “Black Removal.”
- Senate Testimony of Hilary O. Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau Director (2005).


“Under that act [Federal Housing Act of 1949], which was in force between 1949 and 1973, cities were authorized to use the power of eminent domain to clear ‘blighted neighborhoods’ for ‘higher uses.’ In 24 years, 2,532 projects were carried out in 992 cities that displaced one million people, two-thirds of them African American.
— Institute for Justice study


Eminent domain abuse cannot be effectively addressed without limiting blight condemnations, which have caused more harm than any other kind of taking…

Moreover, a ban on economic-development takings is unlikely to be effective without parallel restrictions on blight condemnations. Effective reform efforts must address the two major flaws of current blight takings: over-expansive definitions of blight and abusive takings in truly blighted areas.
- Ilya Somin, George Mason University law professor and national expert on eminent domain

Simple Solution: By properly defining blight, these problems can be addressed. For example, the amendment could state: “does not apply to the taking of blighted properties that are abandoned or pose a risk to the health and safety20of the public.”

II. Allows Government to Make End-Runs Around the Prohibition on Economic Development Takings

When the government seizes private property for economic development, it rarely comes out and admits it. So long as the government identifies a secondary reason for taking private property, which is easy to do, courts will defer to this reason. The amendment provides little to no protection against these end-runs.

Like Michigan has done with its new constitutional amendment, there should be a burden of proof requirement.

Simple Solution: Require that the government have the burden of proof to show, by clear and convincing evidence, that the taking is for a public use, and that the taking would not have occurred but for the public use.

III. Other Problems

A) Technical Mistake: The current amendment would have the unintended consequence of not requiring just compensation for “physically blighted” properties or takings for “access to property.” This problem can be fixed by simply making the last sentence of the amendment its own paragraph.

B) Access to Property: Under the proposed amendment, an economic development taking would be allowed when it is for “access to property.” This could mean seizing a house so that a driveway could be built for a shopping mall. This language is far too broad.

C) Just Compensation: The amendment should specifically define just compensation to include relocation costs, loss of business goodwill, attorney’s fees and other costs necessary to make eminent domain victims “whole.”


North Carolina needs an eminent domain amendment — the legislature understands that as evidenced by the bipartisan support for the proposed amendment. At best, there will be one bite at the eminent domain reform apple—this amendment would waste this critical opportunity. Fortunately, by making only slight changes, the amendment could provide real eminent domain reform.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Independence Day and Property Rights

At the N.C. Property Rights Coalition, we believe that property rights are one of the cornerstones of free people in a free society. We encourage you to consider the following as you celebrate America's Independence Day:

Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

"Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist."
- John Adams

"Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can."
- Samuel Adams

Private property was the original source of freedom. It still is its main bulwark."
- Walter Lippmann

Raleigh council member quits as head of group pushing for government to seize Alcoa's dams

The News & Observer (7/2/09): Raleigh councilwoman Nancy McFarlane said Wednesday that she will resign from her position as president of the N.C. Water Rights Committee, saying her involvement with the group has become a distraction.

The announcement is an abrupt end to an unlikely five-month marriage between McFarlane, a first-term City Council member who represents North Raleigh, and the committee, which was created last year to oppose the request of Alcoa Power Generating to renew its license to operate hydroelectric dams on the Yadkin River 100 miles west of Raleigh. more...

- Carolina Journal: Mystery Group Behind Dam Takeover Bid
- Senate Votes to Take Alcoa's Dams
- Kieran Shanahan speaks out on state's efforts to seize Alcoa's private property