Friday, June 24, 2005

Hope in Texas

Rep. Frank Corte Jr. is trying to do something about eminent domain abuse in Texas:

Texas' cultural commitment to private property rights surfaced quickly Thursday as a state legislator moved to blunt the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that local governments may seize land for private development.

Hours after the court's 5-4 ruling came down, Rep. Frank Corte Jr., R-San Antonio, said he would seek "to defend the rights of property owners in Texas" by proposing a state constitutional amendment limiting local powers of eminent domain, or condemnation.

Houston Mayor Bill White and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels offered assurances that the city and county do not intend to condemn land for private development projects.

But officials in the beachfront town of Freeport, south of Houston, said they would move aggressively to condemn property owned by two seafood companies to clear the way for an $8 million private marina.
. . .
Corte said he would ask Gov. Rick Perry to add the condemnation issue to the agenda of the special legislative session now under way so that the proposed constitutional amendment could appear on the November ballot.

Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said the governor would consider requests to add items to the agenda, but probably not until legislators resolve the school finance issue. She said Perry supports property rights and was concerned about the Supreme Court ruling.

Corte said in a news release that his proposed amendment would "limit a local governmental entity's power of eminent domain, preventing them from bulldozing residences in favor of private developers."