News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2005


Legislature moves fast on property-rights bill

After a so-so regular session in which legislators couldn't pass a General Fund budget, they along with Gov. Bob Riley, need the sweet aroma of victory.

They smell a winner in the eminent domain bill that passed the Senate last week and comes up for a vote in the House today.

America panicked after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year said in a Connecticut case that cities may use the power of eminent domain to force the sale of private property at fair value for commercial redevelopment.

People want property protection, and that's what legislators are attempting to provide.

The legislation is moving so swiftly in the special session called to pass the budget that many people think legislators are up to no good.

They're not. Really, they are not. They're just politicking a little in advance of next year's election.

Some industry hunters fear the bill may be so strict that it will hamper industrial recruiting. While not used in that manner in the past, eminent domain could be leverage to get a holdout to sell a few strategic acres that would help make up a larger tract of land for a giant industrial corporation.

The assessment of Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, fuels that concern. "The only exception is in cases of blight," he said.

While no one wants government taking their property, the Legislature is moving so fast that legislators are already talking about going back in regular session and cleaning up any problems in the new bill.

There's no overnight urgency to tighten the right of property owners in Alabama right now. But for the governor and the Legislature, passing this bill is a no-brainer because it's not right to force individuals to sell their property to other private individuals, even in the name of public good.

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