Congress, White House Address Takings Abuses

Published August 1, 2006

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2005” with a substantial bipartisan majority in November 2005. The bill would prohibit states and municipalities from using eminent domain to take property for economic development if they have received any federal economic development funds within that fiscal year. In addition, if after receiving federal economic development funds a state or municipality did take private property to help private developers, it would lose future federal development funds for two years.

Companion legislation has lingered in the Senate, having not yet been granted a hearing.

On June 23, 2006, President George W. Bush issued an Executive Order prohibiting federal agencies from exercising eminent domain power to transfer property from one private citizen to another. The Executive Order expressly prohibits takings of property simply to maximize the economic value of property. Taking property for ostensibly public use will still be allowed.

— H. Sterling Burnett