CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, February 27, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1433, the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2012, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval. H.R. 1433 was introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) on April 7, 2011, and was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, which reported the bill, as amended, by a vote of 23 – 5 on February 17, 2012.
H.R. 1433 would protect the rights of private property owners by suspending the receipt of federal economic development funds for two years for any state or local government that uses eminent domain to transfer private property from one private owner to another for the purpose of economic development. It would also give property owners legal recourse to fight private economic development takings and prohibits the federal government from using eminent domain for private economic development. Thus, the bill limits the negative impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London.
This legislation was approved by the House in the 109th Congress by a vote of 376 - 38, but did not receive consideration in the Senate. Several states have approved legislation to limit their eminent domain power and courts in other states have barred private economic development takings under their state constitutions. However, H.R. 1433 is necessary to provide these protections to private property owners in every state.
According to the Committee on the Judiciary, too many Americans have lost homes and small businesses to eminent domain abuse, forced to watch as private developers replace them with luxury condominiums and other “upscale” uses. Family farms are wiped out by eminent domain to make way for shopping centers and big-box stores. And churches, generally entitled to tax-exempt status, are often seized through eminent domain to be replaced by more lucrative private development. The federal government should not be a party to private-to-private transfers of property. It should not spend the country’s scarce economic development funds on projects that strip Americans of their constitutional rights. The Private Property Rights Protection Act would ensure that federal economic development funds will not be spent on projects or in states that misuse the eminent domain power to seize property for private economic development.
CBO has not issued a cost estimate for H.R. 1433 as of press time.