New Hampshire

  • Blight is now property-by-property and must be a “menace” to health and safety.
  • A constitutional amendment prohibits taking property for private use.
50 State Report Card 50 State Report Card Grade

50 State Report Card: Tracking Eminent Domain Reform Legislation since Kelo

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Read: New Hampshire Chapter
Read: Entire Report

Current Abuses Bills
Senate Bill 287
Sponsored by: State Senator Bob Odell
Status: Signed into law on June 23, 2006.

CACR 30
Sponsored by: State Representative Robert Giuda
Status: Passed by the legislature on April 20, 2006.
Approved by voters on November 7, 2006.

Overview

On Friday, June 23, 2006, exactly one year after the Kelo decision, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch signed into law Senate Bill 287, legislation that provides citizens with meaningful protection against eminent domain for private profit. The eminent domain reform bill, which sailed through both legislative houses, explicitly states, “Public use shall not include the public benefits resulting from private economic development and private commercial enterprise, including increased tax revenues and increased employment opportunities.”

Unfortunately, the bill continues to allow the use of eminent domain for the elimination of blight, and even though SB 287 requires that an individual property, as opposed to an area, be a “menace to health and safety,” the blight exemption still prevents New Hampshire’s reform from receiving the highest grade.

Knowing that statutes are easier to repeal than constitutional provisions, the New Hampshire General Court also made sure that the state’s citizens had the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment that would guarantee the greatest possible protection for their property rights. CACR 30 was that proposed constitutional amendment, which said: “No part of a person’s property shall be taken by eminent domain and transferred, directly or indirectly, to another person if the taking is for the purpose of private development or other private use of the property.” In the November 2006 elections, more than 85 percent of New Hampshire voters cast their ballots in favor of this new provision.

This is one of the strongest reform efforts mounted in response to Kelo. New Hampshire legislators understand what defenders of eminent domain abuse still do not—that Kelo created a big problem for the states to fix, that economic development will undoubtedly continue without eminent domain, and that every home, business, farm, and place of worship needed protection against condemnation for private gain.