(November 3, 2009) - Texans overwhelmingly voted for Proposition 11 in hopes that it sends a strong message that Texans want eminent domain reform. However, Prop 11 didn't get the job done. The Texas Legislature needs to continue the push for further reforms and to prevent abuses. TURF didn't support Prop11 because it still allows a governmental entity to take Texans' private property for "urban blight" and "certain economic development or enhancement of tax revenue purposes," nor did it include:
- Strong definition of public use limiting eminent domain for ANY economic development and tax enhancement purposes
- Good faith negotiations (prevent entities from low-balling landowners and forcing them to hire expensive lawyers to get fair market value)
- Compensation for diminished access to a landowner's property
- Limit the granting of eminent domain to any further entities without a vote of the people
- Relocation assistance for displaced landowners
- Ability to buy land back at original cost after 10 years if the State doesn't use it
Bottom line, the State can still condemn Texans' land against their will and hand it over to private developers for toll roads using public private partnerships called Comprehensive Development Agreements. The Trans Texas Corridor, originally slated to gobble-up massive swaths of private property (4 football fields wide, biggest land grab in Texas history) through rural Texas, along with dozens of toll projects in urban areas are precisely why Texans have yet to get a strong eminent domain reform bill. When foreign corporations get controlling interest in public highways in such sweetheart deals with guaranteed 12-19% annual profits, non-compete agreements that guarantee congestion on the free routes, etc., they become defacto taxing entities and charge Texans hefty tolls to access their own public roads.
"It's private profits in the name of public use," noted Terri Hall. Founder/Director of Texas TURF.