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Letters To Editor – April 3, 2008

Rights Of Landowners Should Be Protected

Owning a piece of land, whether as a home for your family or as farmland, timberland, or just as a place that you and your family can enjoy, is a common thread in our society.  Most Americans aspire to be property owners. 

Unfortunately, that type of goal has been threatened in recent years by a Supreme Court case known as Kelo v New London, CT (2005).  The Kelo v New London decision significantly changed the definition of eminent domain by allowing private land to be taken and given to a private entity for economic development purposes. 

Traditionally, eminent domain has been used for highways, parks, utilities, and other public uses.  The Supreme Court’s decision means that our private land can now be taken and given to another private party simply because that individual might possibly be able to make money with it and pay more taxes.

As Mississippi landowners, we need sound legislation in place that will protect our rights as landowners. 

Since the 2005 Supreme Court decision, forty-two states have implemented some form of legislation to strengthen their eminent domain laws. Of those forty-two states, twenty-three have strengthened their laws significantly.

The Southeastern area of the United States has risen to the challenge of protecting private property rights. Mississippi should do likewise.

Mississippi is one of only eight states that have failed to pass legislation that would strengthen private property rights.  For the past three years, every attempt to pass legislation to protect the rights of landowners has failed.

In the current legislative session, two bills are pending that protect landowners from having their property taken except for true public purposes,  Senate Bill 2822 and House Bill 591. 

There is one main difference between the two bills.  The Senate bill would allow local governments to use eminent domain to take property for economic development projects creating 1,000 or more jobs.  The House bill does not contain that exemption.

We need to prevent the abuse of eminent domain in Mississippi. Please join me and the members of our Farm Bureau family in supporting private property rights.  

Help us preserve an important American Dream.  Remember, this could happen to you.

David Waide,
Mississippi Farm Bureau

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