From the Missouri Viewpoints Archives:

Publication date: March 05 2009



Property Rights or Public Good Conflicting Priorities and Eminent Domain

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Property Rights or Public Good Conflicting Priorities and Eminent Domain

Missouri Citizens for Property Rights Ron Calzone details effort to amend the state constitution

(Grandview, MO) The current recession is hurting more than those who have lost their jobs and financial institutions. Local governments budgets are squeezed as well, making economic development the key to keeping many government services fully funded according to some municipal leaders and officials.

What takes precedence when a governments effort to pursue economic development and predicted revenue that should come from the project(s) collides with a property owners desire to keep his or her house or business? After the Kelo vs. City of New London US Supreme Court decision in 2005, the saying You cant fight City Hall seemed more appropriate.

Since that ruling, over 40 states including Missouri have passed laws to protect property owners from what many call the abuse of eminent domain: the taking of private property in order to put it in the hands of another private owner who is expected to generate more tax revenue for the local government.

One group in Missouri wants to amend the state constitution to stop that practice. Missouri Citizens for Property Rights (MO-CPR) is currently working to put an initiative on the 2010 ballot that would restrict the ability of local government to use eminent domain. If placed on the ballot and approved by voters, the initiative would limit the use of eminent domain to public good projects such as road construction or other publicly-owned services (and, in some cases, for utility services).

MO-CPR Chairman, Ron Calzone, does not mince words when describing how he and many other Missourians feel about the use of eminent domain to transfer ownership of property for the sake of economic development. Explaining his opposition in principle to the practice, Calzone says When government gives favored treatment to one segment of society or one individual at the expense of others, well, we call that despotism.

Calzone and MO-CPR are also concerned about a proposed bill in the state House that would add restrictions to petition efforts in the Missouri. House Bill 228 would, among other things, ban the common pay-per-signature compensation and prohibit petitioners who are not Missouri residents.

Those restrictions, Calzone says, are both blatantly unconstitutional and a power grab for the General Assembly.

To learn more about Missouri Citizens for Property Rights, visit www.mo-cpr.org.

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