TFB: Constitution change a good first step

Governor Perry’s attempt to codify a current eminent domain law into the Texas Constitution is a good first step toward the true reform needed for property owners in Texas, said the leader of the state’s largest farm organization.

“Texas Farm Bureau welcomes Governor Perry’s recognition of the sacred bond between landowners and their property,” said TFB President Kenneth Dierschke. “However, any eminent domain reform must also address fair compensation and consider all factors between a willing buyer and seller—especially diminished access.”

Property values are often devalued by a loss of direct access to the property. It is a huge problem in rural Texas, and is especially important in any discussion relating to eminent domain reform, Dierschke said.

The TFB president said some of the language in Perry’s proposal is similar to Senate Bill 7, which barred local governments from condemning private property for for-profit economic development projects. Senate Bill 7 was passed in the 2005 summer special session. Gov. Perry also called for the need for good faith negotiation between buyer and seller in eminent domain cases.

“Codifying eminent domain legislation into the Texas Constitution is a good idea,” Dierschke said. “Let’s make sure, however, that any new legislation covers all the bases.”

Eminent domain reform in the Lone Star State, Dierschke said, must rest on three pillars: Good faith negotiation before condemnation, adequate compensation which includes factors such as diminished access, and a no-nonsense definition of public use. The governor called for a team approach to solving eminent domain differences.

“The members of the Texas Farm Bureau have been at odds with the Governor over this issue since his veto of the landmark eminent domain legislation—House Bill 2006 —in the last session,” Dierschke said. “We’re ready to put our differences aside to work on fair and just eminent domain reform for all Texans.”

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