Area legislators approve eminent domain bill

March 13, 2009



JACKSON -- State lawmakers on Wednesday gave final approval to an eminent domain bill that Gov. Haley Barbour has said could be "a major impediment to Mississippi''s job-creation efforts" because it overly restricts government''s ability to take land for industrial use. 


The House agreed with the Senate''s version of the bill to send to Barbour. 


It''s uncertain if the Republican governor will veto the bill, but he has expressed strong opposition to provisions to ensure state and local governments can''t force landowners to sell their properties so an industry can locate there. 


"If the bill that passed the Senate (in February) were to become law, it would be a major impediment to Mississippi''s job creation efforts," the governor said in a statement he issued last month after the Senate voted for a similar version of the eminent domain bill the House approved Wednesday. 


While the bill passed the House and Senate with more than enough votes to override a veto, the Republican minority is large enough to prevent the Legislature from reaching the 67 percent majority required. However, some GOP lawmakers have said they won''t side with Barbour on this issue. 


The bill says government''s eminent-domain power can''t be used to buy private property to enhance tax revenues by turning it over to commercial developers. The Senate did attach an exception for the Toyota plant being built near Tupelo, where there could be properties the government must force owners to sell for auto-plant suppliers to locate near the facility. 


The Senate votedĀ 51-0 for House Bill 803.The House voted 115-5 to agree with the Senate''s version. 


All area legislators voted for the bill. 


The legislation is in response to a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision letting governments take private property for commercial developments. 


Since then, 39 states have enacted legislation or passed ballot measures to restrict the use of eminent domain, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.