Senate fails to override eminent domain bill veto

March 27, 2009



JACKSON -- The Senate failed Thursday to override Gov. Haley Barbour''s veto of a bill restricting government''s power to force people to give up their land for industrial uses. 


The vote was 28-22, but 34 senators were needed to pass the bill over the Republican governor''s objection. 


The Democratic-dominated House voted Tuesday to override the veto, leaving it to the GOP-controlled Senate to decide if the bill becomes law. 


Many Republicans normally allied with Barbour broke from him to vote against the veto, but several Democratic senators who''ve been Barbour''s adversaries joined several Republicans today to sustain the veto. 


Barbour said the state Legislature would be unconstitutionally restricting government''s land-takeover powers if the Senate had enacted the eminent domain bill over his veto. 


It''s an "obvious fact that House Bill 803 clearly violates the Mississippi Constitution," said Barbour, who cited in his veto message a provision that says it''s ultimately up to judges to decide what''s considered a public use when government takes over private land. 


Rep. Jeff Smith, D-Columbus, said Barbour has a good point. He was the only Golden Triangle legislator voting against the House''s veto override Tuesday. 


"I don''t think we need the bill with that constitutional section being so strong," said Smith, referring to that provision the veto was partly based on. 


"If there''s a dispute, it''s a judicial issue and not a legislative issue," he said. 


Barbour vetoed the eminent domain restriction because it could kill economic-development projects. Barbour said such projects can be a public benefit the Legislature has no right to limit with such sweeping legislation.