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
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.
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:
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
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.
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:
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,
Restrict local government to the provisions
as amended above, clarifying the ambiguous "any public purpose" which
has been abused.
Section II, Paragraph V of the Constitution is amended by striking
such Paragraph and inserting in its place a new Paragraph to read
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.
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
shall not include the sale or other disposition of property
acquired by eminent domain to private enterprise for private
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
by Mike Crane,
candidate Senate District 51