Senate Passes Eminent Domain Reform Bill
Austin — The Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 18, by State Senator Craig Estes (R – Wichita Falls) which provides key reforms to the state's eminent domain laws.
"Private property and the right to own and profit from it, are fundamental to not only our economic liberty, but also our personal liberty," said Estes. "Senate Bill 18 provides meaningful eminent domain reform and strengthens the rights of property owners against the use of eminent domain by government or other condemning authorities," said Estes.
Senate Bill 18 makes several key revisions to current law, including requiring that condemning authorities make a good faith offer before condemning procedures begin, prohibiting the taking of private property unless it is for a public use, improving notice and disclosure by condemning entities, applying condemnation rules to all condemning entities, and providing property owners with the opportunity to buy back property at the original purchase price if the taken property is not used for its public purpose in ten years.
One of the key provisions requires fair compensation for loss of access and for moving or relocation expenses from the condemning authority. Under Senate Bill 18, a property owner would be entitled to compensation for any loss of market value at the time of taking due to a material impairment of direct access to the land.
Other key provisions include authorizing property owners to construct roads over oil and gas pipeline easements, with certain restrictions, and requiring all entities with eminent domain authority to register with the state comptroller by December 31, 2012 or risk losing their condemnation authority.
"I've worked closely with Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Southwest Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Association of Builders, Texas Association of Realtors, Texas Wildlife Association, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, among many other stakeholders, to craft the language of this bill to make it equitable for all parties", said Estes. "I am especially grateful for the hard work and cooperation of State Senator Robert Duncan, and State Senator Glenn Hegar who have been invaluable in helping to craft and pass this legislation.", said Estes.
Senator Estes is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and represents Senate District 30 covering Archer, Baylor, Clay, Collin (part), Cooke, Denton (part), Grayson, Jack, Montague, Parker, Palo Pinto, Shackelford, Stephens, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger, Wise, and Young counties.