House Approves Bill to Curb Eminent Domain

The House approved legislation (HR 1433) last month that would prohibit the use of eminent domain by government entities for economic development purposes.

Jurisdictions that defy the prohibition would forfeit any federal economic development funds for two years. The legislation does not indicate any specific federal programs in this case, but the Community Development Block Grant program at HUD is assumed to be the primary target of the legislation.

In addition, the legislation, in very broad strokes, would prohibit the use of eminent domain for any purpose on property owned by religious or non-profit organizations if the jurisdiction receives federal economic development funding.

The measure is in response to outcry over the 2005 Supreme Court decision (Kelo v. New London) that ruled that the City of New London, CT was within its rights to use eminent domain powers when it transferred land from one private entity to another to further a comprehensive redevelopment plan.

HR 1433 was approved by voice vote in the House.  Senate leaders have not indicated whether they would take up HR 1433, but Republicans in that chamber have indicated that they would attempt to introduce the bill as an amendment to pending legislation.


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