Baronger's Scribblings

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Jim Talent sponsors S.1313 Protection of Homes, Small Businesses, and Private Property Act of 2005 in responce to Kelo.

The Kelo bill has been co-sponsored by Senator Talent of Missouri. I received a responce from him regarding his stance on the bill.

From: Senator Jim Talent
Date: Mar 14, 2006 8:10 AM
Subject: Re: Kelo decision - Property Rights
To: baronger@gmail.com

Dear Mr. (Baronger):

Thank you for contacting me to voice your concerns with the Supreme Court decision on eminent domain. I appreciate the time you have taken to share your views with me, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution specifically provides that "private property" shall not "be taken for public use without just compensation." The Amendment thus provides an essential guarantee of liberty against the abuse of the power of eminent domain, by permitting government to seize private property only "for public use." This public use prerequisite is made applicable to the states and their political subdivisions, as in Kelo v. City of New London, through the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause. In addition, states and their subdivisions must comply with state constitutions, which use phrases similar to "public use." The Court nevertheless held, by a 5-4 vote, that government may seize the home, small business, or other private property of one owner, and transfer that same property to another private owner, simply by concluding that such a transfer would benefit the community through increased economic development.

While I believe eminent domain can be an appropriate economic tool under certain circumstances, I disagree with the Court's decision because it is far too broad in allowing public use to include economic development. The Court should at minimum have established standards for determining when eminent domain may be used for private development. Its decision potentially makes all private property vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner under the banner of economic development.

I have cosponsored legislation (S. 1313) to protect homes, small businesses, and other private property rights, by limiting the power of eminent domain. The "Protection of Homes, Small Businesses, and Private Property Act of 2005" would clarify the government's exercise of its power of eminent domain to be limited only for public use and not be construed to include economic development. This standard of protection would apply only to exercises of eminent domain power by the federal government, and exercises of eminent domain power by state and local government through the use of federal funds.

As in other constitutional areas, state courts remain free to interpret state constitutions more stringently, and indeed some state high courts have read their constitutions to bar condemnation for economic development. Moreover, it would also be appropriate for States to take action to voluntarily limit their own power of eminent domain. As the Court in Kelo noted, "nothing in our opinion precludes any State from placing further restrictions on its exercise of the takings power." Some state legislatures have already narrowed their public use clause and it is my understanding that Missouri is taking action to strengthen Missouri's own eminent domain laws. Congress will probably want to see how states around the country reform their eminent domain laws in light of the Court's decision.

I hope this information is helpful. If you would like to continue this discussion, please don't hesitate to call or write.

Thank you for your email. To contact me on this or any other subject, please go to http://talent.senate.gov/Contact/default.cfm

Sincerely,

Senator Jim Talent


It is nice to know that my senator takes this issue seriously. Hopefully reform will happen at both the State, Local and Federal levels. I sent a responce to Mr. Talent, about some of the ideas I have that might put some teeth into any legislation.

Thank you for responding to my inquiry regarding your stance on Kelo and the mitigating action that you are taking.

Legistlation to help with just compensation will hopefully make the taking of private property, a rare event that is only undertaking when necesarry.

After much thought on it here are my three main solutions:

1. The value of each home has to be decided by an impartial judge, based on real estate trends from before the taking decision became public knowledge. This will prevent dishonest manipulation by the entity doing the taking.

2. The state and local property taxing authority shall reimburse all property taxes paid by the homeowner. This means that if they only owned the house for one year, they get refunded one years worth of tax. If the homeowner has owned the house for 30 years, they will be refunded all thirty years of taxes. This will represent the emotional value someone has invested in a home. It will also serve as a deterent.

3. A further 10% above the houses value will be paid to compensate for moving expenses. This will be to compensate for the additional expenses that are involved in relocating that are above and beyond the value of a home. These include moving expenses, title expenses, real estate expenses and pain and suffering that are suffered from being subjected to the whims of a tyranical government.

Thank you for your support.

This is an issue that cuts across all partisian lines, and I hope that S 1313, can be passed soon.


I feel that any eminent domain taking, should be rare and only done in the most direst of needs. The eviction of people from the land they love just so some rich developer can build some "self serving millionaire project" should be condemned by all. Remember everyone that we must keep the pressure up. The dilution of our constitutional rights has to stop. It might not be perfect as is but S1313 is a step in the right direction.

ETA: Previous post on this subject

Hee ... 9 month turn around, not bad for the government. Though I will give a tip of the hat to Sen. Talent for only taking 3 months to sign on.

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