Eminent Domain Reform Bill Passes out of Conference Committee
Austin — The Texas Legislature 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. "We know that Texas is thriving as a state and property is a valuable asset, but that growth should not come at the expense of property owners. This is the most important bill to strengthen private property rights for landowners."
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.
"Senate Bill 18 provides meaningful comprehensive eminent domain reform and strengthens the rights of property owners against the use of eminent domain by government or other condemning authorities", said Estes. "I am extremely grateful for the hard work and cooperation of State Senator Robert Duncan, State Senator Glenn Hegar, State Representative Charlie Geren and our colleagues in the Texas House who have been invaluable in helping to craft and pass this legislation."
The bill was declared an emergency item by Governor Perry. It will now be sent to the Governor's desk to be signed into law.
Senator Estes 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.