Eminent Domain Reform and Legislation
TWA Supports Anticipated Legislation on Eminent Domain Reform
AUSTIN - On Wednesday, January 23, Rep. DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne) and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) along with leaders of Texas’ foremost private property rights organizations will announce details of highly anticipated legislation that will reform the eminent domain process used by for-profit corporations to take private property.
Rep. Burns and Sen. Kolkhorst are committed to creating a fair, transparent and accountable process for the thousands of Texas property owners who face the threat of forced condemnation every year, while ensuring Texas remains a global leader in energy production.
“Texas landowners provide immense benefits to our fellow Texans. Clean air, clean water, food, fiber, and wildlife are all dependent on the open spaces managed by those good people. This legislation is about treating them fairly, which is simply the right thing to do. Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) is very thankful to Senator Kolkhorst and Representative Burns for their leadership on this and proud to support their efforts” said TWA Board President J. David Anderson.
These bills will aid landowners in the process of private entities using government power to take land for profit. It will create public meetings for these private projects so that the landowner can fully understand why their land is being taken, the taking process and to answer any questions they may have. It will prohibit a private entity from offering less than fair market value and will require the private corporation to provide additional payment if the landowner is underpaid. Finally, these bills will require private entities to use easement forms that have certain minimum protections for landowners.
Texas Wildlife Association’s mission is to serve Texas wildlife and its habitat, while protecting property rights, hunting heritage, and the conservation efforts of those who value and steward wildlife resources. TWA is committed to work with its partners and all stakeholders to see this important legislation passed and into law.
TWA's Position on Eminent Domain Reform
The current eminent domain process is unfair and does not respect the rights of Texas landowners. Private entities are using a government power to take land for profit but are not transparent, fair or accountable to the public. Landowners are left on their own and many are threatened each year with litigation and forced into a stressful and unequal bargaining position as an unwilling seller.
Public Meetings For Private Projects: Texas landowners are entitled to public meetings in their own county to better understand why their land is being taken, the taking process and to have their questions answered.
Protection Against Low Offers: Texas law does not prohibit a private entity from offering less than fair market value. Landowners must negotiate up to fair market value, and often get less than the value they’re entitled to. Private corporations should be required to provide additional payment if they underpay the landowner.
Minimum Easement Terms: Landowners are often presented with an unfair, one-sided or otherwise inadequate easement contract. Private entities should be required to use easement forms that have certain minimum protections for landowners, including but not limited to:
- number and size of pipelines or transmission lines
- product or voltage being carried
- double-ditch method
- defined access
- future damages incurred as a result of maintenance/repairs
- surface restoration
- fences/gates/cattle guards
- prohibition against transfer to private entities without eminent domain authority
THE SUCCESS OF TEXAS DEPENDS ON RELIABLE INFRASTRUCTURE FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH.
WE ARE NOT HERE TO IMPEDE PROGRESS, SIMPLY TO ENSURE THE PROCESS IS FAIR AND
TRANSPARENT, AND THAT CONDEMNERS ARE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS.