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Taxpayers Support Eminent Domain Reforms!
July 1, 2010
On behalf of the 362,000 members and the many property owners of the National Taxpayers Union, I urge you to cosponsor H.R. 5582, the Private Property Rights Protection and Government Accountability Act. Introduced by Representative John Sullivan (R-OK), this bill would seek to protect private landowners by reining in the all-too-far-reaching eminent domain authority we have witnessed in recent years.
In June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the City of New London, Connecticut was justified in seizing the property of Susette Kelo and her fellow homeowners on behalf of a private party that claimed it could generate higher economic activity and tax revenues if the land were put to a different use. Prior to Kelo v. City of New London, private property was seized for the purpose of public use, such as roads, schools, firehouses, etc. The Kelo decision unfairly handed governments much more power to engage in private-to-private land transfers. Although some states have subsequently enacted laws curbing some eminent domain abuses, property owners remain imperiled.
The Private Property Rights Protection and Government Accountability Act would help deter states from engaging in eminent domain abuse. The legislation would restrict certain federal economic development funds (for ten years) from flowing to states that use private development as a reason to invoke eminent domain. H.R. 5582 would also provide private property owners with the legal recourse they need to fight back should it be necessary to do so.
It is inexcusable for the government to take over an individual's land for the purpose of increasing its tax base, no matter how dismal the economic climate. Taxpayers work hard for land they own, whether as a residence or business, and should not be punished for the fiscal mishaps of those leaders who serve them. Eminent domain must be restrained and H.R. 5582 would make great strides toward achieving that goal.
The House should quickly pass this vital legislation so that Congress can enact essential protections before the year's end. Any roll call votes related to H.R. 5582 will be significantly weighted in our annual Rating of Congress.