Eminent Domain Reform Legislation Goes into Effect September 1st, 2011
Austin — Senate Bill 18, enacted by the 82nd Legislature, requires all public and private entities authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain in Texas to submit a letter to the Comptroller of Public Accounts (via certified mail) detailing their legal authority to exercise this power. This legislation goes into effect today, September 1st, 2011.
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.
On Friday, August 26th, the Texas Supreme Court ruled against Denbury Resources, a Plano-based oil producer, regarding the use of eminent domain for the company's pipeline through areas of farmland in Jefferson County in southeast Texas. The Supreme Court concluded that Denbury had not established that it was a "common carrier" or that its pipeline was intended for "public use". The court ruled that because Denbury could not satisfy these prerequisites, it could not constitutionally exercise eminent domain authority to run its pipeline through these areas.
"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."
For a list of Senate Bill 18 compliance requirements, please visit the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts website at:
The bill was declared an emergency item by Governor Perry.
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.