Thursday, March 23, 2006

New Legislation to remedy Kelo

A friend in Washington recently e-mailed me this news about new legislation:

"As you know, in Kelo v New London, the United States Supreme Court expanded the authority of local governments to exercise the power of eminent domain for public purposes which include a use which enhances the economic value of the property. One measure of this is the tax revenues which would flow to local coffers. Thus, if a local government determined that wiping out a neighborhood and building a strip mall would enhance the economic use of the property, there would be nothing to stop them. In terms of political influence, guess who has more pull between wealthy developers who contribute to the campaign coffers of local politicians or low and middle income homeowners.

It is up to the Congress and State Legislatures to respond to this declaration of war against American neighborhoods and communities. In this regard, Congressman James Sensenbrenner, Dan Lungren, Shiela Jackson Lee and a bipartisan group within the House introduced H.R. 3135 to deny federal funds to any use of eminent domain where the property involved would not be available for use by the general public, or as a public facility, or to remove harmful effects. The legislation passed the House but has become stalled in the Senate. This is perhaps one of the most significant Constitutional issues facing our communities."

This is an exciting development. Kelo was a very bad decision, and will take years to overturn. In the meantime legislatures, including Congress need to act to protect the public from overreaching by the government.

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