SB 740, 741 and 742 - Taking Aim at Eminent Domain Reform
AUSTIN — The Texans for Property Rights Coalition applauds the filing of SB 740, 741 and 742 aimed at eminent domain reform. The bills expand upon progress made in landmark 2011 eminent domain legislation. The three bills, authored by Senator Lois Kolkhorst, will help level the playing field for property owners who confront corporations and government entities with deep pockets and experienced legal teams.
"Every Texan knows that our private property rights must be protected," said Senator Kolkhorst. "To protect landowners across Texas, I am proud to be working with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Wildlife Association and many others on a new property rights protection package, Senate Bills 740, 741 and 742. This legislative package gives all landowners the new tools and safeguards they need to protect their land from eminent domain abuse."
“We are grateful to have an ally like Sen. Kolkhorst who is committed to defending the rights of private landowners,” added Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association President Richard Thorpe. “Property owners continue to be at a huge disadvantage when navigating the condemnation process and these proposed reforms are a great step toward preserving our heritage of land ownership in Texas.”
A growing state with a strong appetite for new development has put a target on Texas private property, leaving landowners searching for a fair offer and process in eminent domain cases.
"We are proposing reasonable changes that many states already have in law. Texas should be a leader in strong and fair private property rights that allow for continued growth and economic prosperity," Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening said. "We aim to build fairness and integrity into the condemnation process to ensure landowners receive fair and just compensation."
The new legislation will provide for the reimbursement of landowner expenses if they are sued by a condemner and are ultimately awarded significantly more than the final offer. It will also spell out the use and restriction details required within a condemnor’s “bona fide offer” to ensure the entity will properly use and maintain the property.
The three bills provide common sense reforms in several areas of concern for landowners. Additional details on the coalition’s initiatives can be found on TexansForPropertyRights.com.
“We recognize the need for critical infrastructure to support our population and economy, but we believe there is room for rural landowners to be treated more fairly along the way,” Texas Wildlife Association CEO David Yeates said. “These landowners provide enormous benefit to our state by stewarding the open spaces of Texas, and they deserve equitable treatment during condemnation of their private property.”
Approximately 95 percent of state land is privately owned, putting the needs of the public in direct conflict with the rights of Texas property owners. Fair compensation, the groups noted, should be the only option because private property owners find it difficult to face the financial burden of litigation when entities sue them.
Led by Texas Wildlife Association,Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and Texas Farm Bureau; the Texans for Property Rights Coalition consists of 23 organizations committed to the preservation of Texas’ private property rights. The coalition was organized to pursue eminent domain reform during the 2017 Texas legislative session, and will continue to work with legislators to secure the passage of these bills and others proposed in the senate that address the need for reform.
The coalition members include: Texas Farm Bureau, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Wildlife Association, South Texas’ Property Rights Association, Texas Forestry Association, Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association, Texas Poultry Federation, Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas, Texas Grain Sorghum Association, Plains Cotton Growers Inc., Texas Land and Mineral Owners Association, Texas Association of Dairymen, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Corn Producers Association of Texas, Riverside and Landowners Protection Coalition, Texas Grain and Feed Association, Texas Citrus Mutual, Texas Hill Country Heritage Association, Texas Coalition for Conservation, Texas Wheat Producers Association, Texas Agricultural Land Trust, Ranchers and Landowners Association of Texas and Texas Nursery and Landscape Association.