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Information about Eminent Domain, Public/Private Development and Open Government 

 

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Southern Party candidate endorses HR 87 on Eminent Domain

As reported earlier this year HR 87 (See: Legislative Alert - More on eminent domain - HR 87, a good resolution this time ) contains a solution toward reducing problems with abuse of eminent domain. This issue has gathered a lot of attention since the recent Supreme Court ruling and there are many promises of " action " from the Legislature and Governor.

But we do not understand why they are not looking at the same bill - HR 87 - already filed and sitting in committee without public hearings or a vote? Anything less than this bill will be nothing more than lip service on this issue.

Encourage your State Representative and Senator to support HR 87 as a minimum. It should not take a bad Supreme Court decision for your elected officials to take an interest in protecting your rights.

Please consider one of our candidates for the State Senate, who position statement on eminent domain follows. He endorsed HR 87 and identified eminent domain as a critical issue while the Legislature was moving SB 86 through the legislative process. For your information, SB 86 does not place any Constitutional restrictions on the abuse of eminent domain and is just lip service.

Don't wait until it is your property being taken against your will to line the pockets of some "private developer." Let them know you want HR 87 passed in the 2006 Legislature and to be on the ballot next November for your approval.

Let your State Representative and Senator know that you want to vote on these Constitutional Amendments to protect your property next November or you are not voting for them.

If they will not support your property rights now, what makes you think that they ever will?

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Just as a reminder of how important this issue is becoming. This month the Georgia Department of Transportation is holding public hearings on a major "public/private" transportation project on I-75 north of Atlanta. The State will seize the property and let private developers build addition traffic lanes - but they will be "toll lanes". Guess who will "pocket" the toll money?

In Stockbridge viable ongoing businesses are being seized against their owners will - so that private developers can build more expensive businesses. How would you like to invest years building a business just to have your local government force you to sell your property to one of their "buddies?"

Position statement on Eminent Domain

Eminent domain is the power granted to government at all levels to seize a citizen�s property, against their will if needed, for the purposes for public use. There is a growing problem in both our country and Georgia concerning the abuse of this very important power. Increasingly, elected and appointed officials are stretching the definition of "public use" to include cozy deals with private developers.

The power of eminent domain has been abused by all levels of our government; federal, State and local. Federal and State courts have further clouded the issue and ignored the rights of the citizens by "fuzzy" logic definitions of "public use." Our Founding Fathers instituted a government whose primary purpose was to protect the rights of the citizens. Our government is failing to meet its duty and has become embedded with special interests.

Using a Webster's dictionary in use during the lifetime of our Founding Fathers, there was a very clear definition of the term "public." It was very simple - "not private." Preventing further violation of citizens' property rights is an issue in Georgia and must be solved.

It is just wrong for your property to seized just so that some private company or individual can make more profit especially when the officials involved may be influenced by campaign contributions or other incentives from special interests.

The solution is to clarify the wording in the Georgia Constitution to protect your property from those elected and appointed officials who do not understand "not private" and pander to special interests. The wording in the Constitution has to be clarified or improved to prevent the Legislature from enacting laws which further erode your property rights of the citizens and activist judges from using "fuzzy logic" to unduly violate citizens property rights.

Eminent domain is referenced in the Georgia Constitution in the following locations and proposed wording to protect your property rights is listed below:

Article I, Section III, Paragraph I

Restrictions need to spelled out in detail. Specifically restrict to actual government entities, for specified public purposes and prohibit violation of citizen property rights for economic development.

Article I, Section III, Paragraph I of the Constitution is amended by striking subparagraphs (a) and (b) and inserting in their place new subparagraphs to read as follows:

(a) The power of eminent domain may be exercised only by the state and the counties and municipalities of the state and may not be exercised by any government authority, government created entity or corporation, private entity, or person. The power of eminent domain may be exercised by the state and the counties and municipalities of the state with the intent to transfer ownership of the property to a public authority or other government entity or to a publicly regulated utility company for the purposes authorized in this Paragraph. The power of eminent domain shall only be exercised for purposes of public roads and streets, public transportation, railways, utilities, government owned and used buildings, and public facilities for the general use of government or its citizens. The power of eminent domain shall not be used for purposes of increasing the tax revenue of a government, including the transfer of condemned land to a private entity for purposes of economic development. Except as otherwise provided in this Paragraph, private property shall not be taken or damaged for public purposes without just and adequate compensation being first paid.

(b) When private property is taken or damaged by the state or the counties or municipalities of the state for public road or street purposes, or for public transportation purposes, for other purposes set out in this Paragraph, or for any other public purposes as determined by the General Assembly, just and adequate compensation therefor need not be paid until the same has been finally fixed and determined as provided by law; but such just and adequate compensation shall then be paid in preference to all other obligations except bonded indebtedness."

Article VIII, Section IV, Paragraph I

Remove the power of eminent domain from the board of Regents. If property is needed for a university, the State government would have the authority - if needed - to acquire the property. Note that in the 2005 Legislature a bill was passed to allow certain donors to remain anonymous. With such potential conflict of interest available the Board of Regents should NOT have the power of eminent domain. 

Article VIII, Section IV, Paragraph I of the Constitution is amended by striking subparagraph (d) and inserting in its place a new subparagraph to read as follows:

"(d) The board of regents may hold, purchase, lease, sell, convey, or otherwise dispose of public property, execute conveyances thereon, and utilize the proceeds arising therefrom; may exercise the power of eminent domain in the manner provided by law; and shall have such other powers and duties as provided by law."

Article IX, Section II, Paragraph V

Restrict local government to the provisions as amended above, clarifying the ambiguous "any public purpose" which has been abused.

Article IX, Section II, Paragraph V of the Constitution is amended by striking such Paragraph and inserting in its place a new Paragraph to read as follows:

"Paragraph V. Eminent domain. The governing authority of each county and of each municipality may exercise the power of eminent domain for any public purpose authorized under Article I, Section III, Paragraph I of this Constitution."

Article IX, Section II, Paragraph VII

Specifically prohibit the sale of property seized from the citizens from being sold to non government entities. Private developers should purchase the land they need on the open market, government should never use its power to favor special interests over the citizens.

Article IX, Section II, Paragraph VII of the Constitution is amended by striking subparagraph (a) and inserting in its place a new subparagraph to read as follows:

"(a) The General Assembly may authorize any county, municipality, or housing authority to undertake and carry out community redevelopment, which may shall not include the sale or other disposition of property acquired by eminent domain to private enterprise for private uses."

H. R. 87 is a solution

These recommendations have been filed as H.R. 87 in the 2005-2006 Legislative Session, but have been held hostage in committee. This bill if passed would place the above amendments to the Georgia Constitution on the 2006 November ballot in a referendum. In other words, if passed it would let you - the citizens - decide if you want to protect property rights - or - continue to allow them to be abused for private gain.

Just like on the State Flag issue - there is something American about letting the people decide. On the other hand it is very questionable to let the unholy influence of special interests decide the issue for you.

If given the opportunity to be your voice in the State Senate I will be a proponent for protecting property and all rights of Georgia�s citizens against the unholy influence of special interests.

by Mike Crane, candidate Senate District 51
http://electmikecrane.com
candidate@electmikecrane.com 
706-374-2640

 

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