Survey: support for eminent domain reform

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The Texas Farm Bureau headquartered in Waco says a survey conducted of Texas voters shows strong support of reform for the use of eminent domain to obtain land from citizens.

Under eminent domain, the government and some private entities may take land for what is determined to be ” the public good.”

A survey on the issue was conducted by the Eppstein Group of Fort Worth, commissioned by Farm Bureau.

The survey indicated what was termed a ” broad consensus” that the process is often unfair to property owners.

“We all accept that eminent domain is necessary sometimes,” TFB President Russell Boening said. “We do not oppose that. However, Texas has left fairness and just compensation far behind in the process.”

Legislation has been introduced in both the Texas House and Texas Senate calling for more transparency in proceedings that lead to the taking of land, including consequences for offering less than fair market value and damages to private property.

The legislation overall calls for ” fairness, accountability, and transparency” in eminent domain proceedings.

In the survey,  89 percent of all respondents favored financial penalties for offers being too low.

Eighty percenbt favored ” bad faith” penalties when offers are less than half of a property’s value.

“Eminent domain is not a normal business transaction,” Boening said. “The landowner does not have the option of walking away from the table.”

The survey showed ninety percent of Texas respondents support requiring private companies to give advance notice to landowners before eminent domain action can begin

The survey indicated that most landowners felt at a financial disadvantage in eminent domain proceedings, with similar results among Democrats and Republicans.

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