A Tale of Two Constitutional Amendments

vote.jpgNovember 4 was a good night for property rights in the states of Nevada and Louisiana.

Due to Nevada’s requirement that constitutional amendments be voted on twice before becoming law, this was the second vote on Ballot Question 2, a citizen initiative to amend the state’s constitution, and voters supported it overwhelmingly with 61% approving.

The amendment tightens the state’s definition of “public use”:

Public use shall not include the direct or indirect transfer of any interest in property taken in an eminent domain proceeding from one private party to another private party. In all eminent domain actions, the government shall have the burden to prove public use.

With this second vote of approval, Ballot Question 2 amends the state constitution. However, two years from now, Nevadans will vote on Joint Assembly Resolution 3, another similar but weaker constitutional amendment. Should that pass, it would replace the constitutional amendment just approved by voters earlier this month. For more on Nevada’s reform, check out the 50 State Report Card.

In Louisiana, voters came face to face with an effort to roll back reforms passed just two years ago and narrowly defeated the measure.

In 2006, voters ratified two constitutional amendments. The first prohibited the taking of private property for private use, preventing local governments from taking property in order to generate taxes or jobs. The second constitutional amendment required local governments to offer any condemned property it no longer needs back to its original owners before selling it to another private party.

This year, Constitutional Amendment 6, the “Blighted Properties Act,” would have provided an exception to 2006’s second amendment. The “Blighted Properties Act” would have taken away the right of first refusal for property owners whose property had been taken for the purposes of “blight removal” but is no longer needed by local governments. With only 49% approving Amendment 6, a majority of Louisianans chose to protect their property rights by voting no.