Lawmakers Debate Bill Limiting Eminent Domain for Private Gain
In Austin, critics hope to slow down a fast-tracked bill supporters say will strengthen the rights of property owners facing eminent domain proceedings that sailed through the Senate this week by a 31-0 vote.
Opponents insist the bill, designated as emergency legislation by Gov. Rick Perry, benefits utility companies, the oil and gas industry and other special interests, including private toll road investors still eager to build a Trans-Texas Corridor.
"After four previous attempts to protect Texas landowners from eminent domain for private gain, lawmakers either can't get it right or won't get it right," said Terri Hall, founder of a grass-roots group called Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, or TURF. "Texans deserve to be told the truth and to be given true protection from eminent domain for private gain, not have their lawmakers tell them they have it when they don't."