Texas Senate Pushes Eminent Domain Reform

AUSTIN (AP) _ Senate Republicans, hoping to pass reforms that Gov. Rick Perry vetoed last year, promoted legislation Tuesday to put curbs on government condemnation powers.

The bill restricting eminent domain authority would forbid governmental entities from taking property away from citizens solely to benefit private individuals, and it aims to ensure that fair compensation and certain moving expenses are paid to people whose land is seized.

The legislation, SB 18 by Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, would also help landowners retain access to their land when the government creates easements on their property.

Perry got crossways with farmers in 2007 when he vetoed an eminent domain bill that addressed diminished access. This year, Perry is pushing a constitutional amendment to safeguard landowners’ rights.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Republican leader of the state Senate, said proponents were consulting with Perry on the legislation.

“I’m optimistic that we will be able to come up with a consensus bill … that will enable us to take care of the concerns of our farmers friends, our ranchers, landowners as well as our state agencies,” Dewhurst said.