WEB RELEASE: March 19, 2009
CONTACT: John E. Kramer
Arlington, Va.—Sign Mississippi’s eminent domain reform into law. That is the message of a widespread and growing coalition of groups now urging Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to sign H.B. 803, a bill that would enact much-needed eminent domain reform. H.B. 803, if signed, will protect Mississippi’s home, small business, church, forest and farm owners from having their private property taken by force and given to other private parties.
The coalition who sent a letter to the Governor encouraging him to sign H.B. 803 includes the National Federation of Independent Business, Mississippi Farm Bureau, Mississippi Center for Public Policy, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Americans for Tax Reform, Mississippi Loggers Association, Mississippi Forestry Association, Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association, Property Rights Alliance, National Taxpayers Union and the Institute for Justice.
The legislation lies before the governor after both the Mississippi House and Senate passed the bill by overwhelming margins—199-3 in the House and unanimously in the Senate. If signed, Mississippi would become the forty-fourth state to enact eminent domain reform legislation after the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London.
“With no ill economic effects—and with the substantial benefits strong reform provides the rightful owners of property and society as a whole—legislators nationwide have been encouraged to pursue safeguards against eminent domain abuse,” the letter states. “All told, 43 states have increased their protections against eminent domain abuse in the four years since the Kelo decision—but not Mississippi, where citizens are more vulnerable than ever to eminent domain abuse.”
Despite the overwhelming support for eminent domain reform not just in Mississippi but across the nation, Gov. Barbour expressed doubts about the legislation after it passed the legislature because he thought it would prevent economic development from happening in the state—a concern the coalition finds to be misplaced. In the letter, the coalition cites an Institute for Justice study that found that “eminent domain reform has no negative consequences on economic development” and more specifically that “post-Kelo reforms have provided greater protection to property owners without sacrificing economic health.”
IJ represented Susette Kelo and her neighbors before the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London and defended the Archies of Canton, Miss., when the state wanted to take their family homestead for the 1400-acre Nissan plant project, even though both state and Nissan officials said the project didn’t require the Archies’ land.