Rep. Sensenbrenner’s (R-WI) Property Rights Bill passed the US House of Representatives on July 23, 2018. An article in The Daily Caller for July 25, 2018, says the legislation “would freeze federal economic development funds to any state or local government that seized property from one owner and gave it to another owner for ‘economic development.’ The Private Property Rights Act, introduced by Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin in 2017, was co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. It was an undertaking thirteen years in the making for Sensenbrenner, who first introduced a version of the bill after the Kelo v. New London Supreme Court decision in 2005. It was the fourth time Sensenbrenner had introduced the bill in Congress and the fourth time it had passed in the House.
According to Sensenbrenner’s press release, “The bill addresses the controversial Supreme Court decision in the 2005 case Kelo v. City of New London, which expanded the eminent domain power granted by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. In Kelo, the Court ruled that ‘economic development’ can be justified as a “public use” under the Constitution’s Takings Clause. To combat this expansion of power, H.R. 1689 would make any state or locality that uses the economic development justification for eminent domain ineligible from receiving federal economic development funds for two years. This creates a major incentive for governments to respect the private property rights of its citizens. Additionally, the legislation bars the federal government from exercising eminent domain powers for the purposes of economic development.”
The Property Rights and Pipeline Center notes that the bill “has passed in the House several times before but has never gotten to the Senate. Also, this bill excepts pipelines meaning it does not cover eminent domain for pipelines. It ends eminent domain for ‘economic development’ (the issue in the Kelo case),” but adds that the term eminent domain shall not include, “(iv) for use as an aqueduct, flood control facility, pipeline, or similar use.”
The Property Rights and Pipeline Center works to connect those fighting for their land against pipelines. They want to unite and amplify the voices throughout the land working to preserve our property rights. Friends of Nelson is part of their network. Sign up for their occasional e-newsletter list here.