Eminent Domain Constitutional
Amendment in November� Lip Service Only!
Eminent Domain � or rather government abuse of eminent domain
powers is a major issue this year. While this problem has been with
us for many years it reached national prominence with the recent
Supreme Court decision, providing federal protection for State and
local government abuse of eminent domain powers.
Actually the Supreme Court decision did
little except solidify the federal government continued intrusion
into every aspect of your life � even though such powers are not
granted in the Constitution. But that is the subject for other
articles, this one will concentrate on the Constitutional Amendment
on our ballot in November.
It is typical Sonny Perdue style. Sounds
good, but has been influenced by special interests. Please read the
following very carefully:
Even if this Constitutional Amendment is
passed on the November ballot, YOUR PROPERTY RIGHTS ARE STILL AT
The Legislature and your Governor added two
"special interests" loopholes. They believe that the citizens of
Georgia will buy their rhetoric, vote for them because they stood up
for your property rights and then still be able to pocket the
campaign contributions of developers and other special interests.
One innocent looking phrase in the proposed
Constitutional Amendment is the special interest "perk!" The wording
(from HB-1306) follows:
" � The
power of eminent domain shall not be used for redevelopment purposes
by any entity, except for public use, as
defined by general law.
This simple phrase, " � as defined by
general law" means that any future Legislature can "redefine"
what constitutes "public use!" In other words, with a simple
majority vote of the Legislature, a developer�s pet project can be
classified as "public use" and your property can be seized
against your will and transferred to a developer for profits and
campaign contributions. HERE WE GO AGAIN!
Only two State Senators voted against this
abomination of Our Founding Principles. Zero State Representatives
voted against this clever stunt.
We all know what will happen, lobbyists will
descend upon the Legislature like a swarm of locusts to get their
pet projects declared "public use."
State Senator Jeff Chapman (R-3) (one of the
two voting against HB-1306) has the following comments:
"The real weakness
of the Constitutional Amendment is the fact that it defers to
statutory law and fails to offer any additional protections not
already stated in HB 1313. Therefore, if Georgians are not
vigilant, even if the Constitutional Amendment passes on election
day, legislators can change the definition of "public use," which
includes a definition for blight, in Georgia law anytime they choose
without voter approval. Further, the Constitutional Amendment does
not contain a clear prohibition against using eminent domain for
private development. Therefore, I could not support it, but it will
be on the November ballot. Georgians need to realize this is not
meaningful constitutional reform and that an honest effort should
move forward again next year."
Senator Chapman of course echoes our
observation about the special interest loophole:
"Therefore, if Georgians are not vigilant, even if the
Constitutional Amendment passes on election day, legislators can
change the definition of "public use," which includes a definition
for blight, in Georgia law anytime they choose without voter
Senator Chapman�s conclusion also echoes our
Georgians need to
realize this is not meaningful constitutional reform and that an
honest effort should move forward again next year.
We should vote for this Constitutional
Amendment in November, but redouble our efforts to remove this
special interest "perk" from our State Constitution before it is
your property that they come for.
This loophole is very vague and most will
not think about it until later.
The Georgia Constitution states that any
Constitutional Amendment can deal with ONE and only ONE subject.
Actual wording follows:
Article 10 Section I of the Georgia
When more than one amendment is submitted at the same time, they
shall be so submitted as to enable the electors to vote on
each amendment separately
In reviewing the entire set of changes to
the Constitution on the Eminent Domain Constitutional Amendment - it
is obvious that a crafty lawyer will be able to argue that this
proposed ballot referendum constitutes multiple amendments and thus
violates Article 10 Section I of the Georgia Constitution.
This will give Sonny Perdue and various
other politicians a chance to scream "judicial activism," call a
special session (read wasting tax payer money) and use it as a soap
box to proclaim how the courts are preventing them from protecting
But the truth is that they took no action
until just before the elections. They added a special interest
loophole. They worded the Constitutional Amendment in such a way
that it will probably be declared "unconstitutional" if it passes.
These methods have more to do with playing partisan politics (while
you pay for it with your tax dollars) and setting up campaign
rhetoric than protecting your property rights!
This may sound familiar to the current
controversy on the Marriage Amendment which was ruled
unconstitutional because it violated the ONE and only ONE subject
provision of our State Constitution � not because the judge rendered
a decision on gay marriage.
This was not a case of judicial activism; it
was case of either political duplicity or political incompetence.
Why was the Constitutional Amendment not written in a manner that
would pass Constitutional review? We all know the the Republican
majority in our Legislature and Governor Perdue have access to the
Georgia Constitution. Was this incompetence, neglect or political
duplicity to create a future political issue?
We support traditional marriage as strongly
as any political party � but do not believe in the questionable
practices used by the Sonny Perdue led Republican Administration to
use such a fundamental issue as a political toy to generate votes
Just as the Sonny Perdue Administration
tried to manipulate the Democrats into eliminating the FAIR Vote
bill in the Democratic controlled House in 2003 they carefully
manipulated a judge into giving them a second round on sound bites
on traditional marriage by crafting a defective Amendment in 2004.
Now it looks like they have done the same
thing on the Eminent Domain in 2006 so that they can get their
second round in 2008.
This style of government is Party over
Principle and is abusing the faith and confidence placed in our
elected officials for partisan purposes. It is up to you � the
citizens of Georgia to decide when you have had enough. Until then
you will continue to get played for the sucker, be given lip service
and on this issue will continue to lose your property.