Legislature passes Landowner's Bill of Rights
Callegari/Nichols bill unanimously passes the Senate
AUSTIN -- Last night the Senate unanimously passed House Bill 1495 to require governments that condemn private property to provide landowners a clear, timely notification of their rights. Authored by Rep. Bill Callegari (R-Houston) and sponsored by Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville), the bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this month without opposition.
"This bill implements a significant reform to the condemnation process," said Representative Callegari. "Before this bill was passed, landowners facing the prospect of having their land condemned received nothing when it came to explaining their rights and the condemnation process. This bill changes that, and empowers landowners to defend their homes with knowledge of their rights, options, and the condemnation process."
Under this legislation, a government entity must send a landowner the "Landowner's Bill of Rights" before that entity may begin negotiations to take the property. The document must explain the process of eminent domain and inform the owner of available options to stop or appeal the process. HB 1495 specifies the state attorney general shall prepare the list of rights using language "easily understood by the average property owner."
"All Texas landowners deserve to know their rights, not just the ones who can afford a lawyer," said Nichols. "This bill provides a plain-English explanation of Texas' protections for landowners facing the threat of eminent domain."
Additionally, the measure requires that the bill of rights document be in a clear font and in an easy-to-read type size.
"I believe the issue of condemnation is too important to put into small print," Nichols continued.
HB 1495 also requires that the Landowner's Bill of Rights be made available to the general public through the Texas Attorney General's Web site.
"This is an important step in preserving the rights of landowners," said Nichols. "It helps cut a clear path through a complex legal maze to defend that place they call 'home'."
Callegari concluded, "I thank Senator Nichols for his leadership in guiding this measure through the Senate. His stewardship and concern for private property rights has helped pass a bill that will provide meaningful protections to landowners affected by a proposed condemnation."
If signed by Gov. Rick Perry, the law will take effect on September 1, 2007.