Looks like the question of whether to use eminent domain for private economic development projects will be on the 2011 ballot. Here’s a release Farm Bureau sent out earlier today:
JACKSON – The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation today delivered more than 118,000 certified signatures to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann so that the issue of eminent domain reform can be placed on the November 2011 ballot for the people of Mississippi to vote on.
After several failed attempts to get an eminent domain reform bill passed in the legislature, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) decided to go the initiative route and gathered the necessary signatures to allow the people of Mississippi to speak on the issue of private property rights.
“For three years, Farm Bureau urged legislators to protect homeowners and landowners from confiscation of their private property by eminent domain, but to no avail,” said MFBF President David Waide. “The 2009 Legislature passed H.B. 803, which prohibited the taking of private property under the guise of economic development for private development or business. Both House and Senate passed the bill, but Governor Barbour vetoed it.”
In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 5-4 decision in Kelo v. City of New London that a Connecticut city could take away people’s homes and turn the property over to a private party to develop the property for its own profit. The Court justified this result because the increased tax revenue on the developed property would benefit the public and the use of the property was, therefore, a public use.
Farm Bureau and many others disagree with this decision.
Since 2005, forty-four states have strengthened their private property rights laws to keep property from being taken by eminent domain and used for economic development. This initiative will give the people of Mississippi the right to vote to ensure that eminent domain will be used only in the traditional ways for public use such as roads, schools, and utilities.