ends eminent domain abuse
Now that Missouri’s
new eminent domain legislation has been signed into law by Gov. Matt
Blunt, all our lawmakers deserve a big pat on the back for doing what
other states haven’t been able to accomplish.
Fixing this divisive issue wasn’t pretty, or easy, but through
it all a diverse, dedicated group of people representing different viewpoints
did the hard work to make it happen.
Much of the credit
for the success of this legislation goes to the leadership at the state
Capitol, from Gov. Blunt, Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons
and House Speaker Rod Jetton. Because of their support — and
occasional whip cracking behind the scenes — bill sponsors Sen.
Chris Koster and Rep. Steve Hobbs were able to take a really hot potato
and in the end get everyone on board and help them understand that
the hot potato wouldn’t burn them.
In crafting eminent
domain legislation Sen. Koster and Rep. Hobbs listened to a large number
of organizations with much at stake in the eminent domain issue. These
groups included private property owners, agriculture organizations
like the Missouri Farm Bureau, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce,
MoDOT, cities, counties, economic development organizations and utilities
like your electric cooperative.
Finding common ground
among these often diverging interest groups wasn’t
easy. No one got everything they wanted. But everyone agreed they could
live with the measure that finally passed. And that’s why the
accomplishment of getting this bill passed and signed into law is such
a victory for all involved.
I am pleased to report
to you that with this new law in place those property abuses that brought
this issue to a head will cease, at least in the state of Missouri.
When eminent domain is used, the process will be fair for all property
owners in Missouri.
At the same time
your electric cooperative can continue to make the improvements needed
in the public interest to ensure that when you flip the switch, the
electricity you need will be there. Cooperative members have always
told us reliable and affordable electricity is important. Our goal
throughout this debate was to keep it that way and still ensure your
property rights are protected.
As this issue was
debated at the state Capitol, the negotiations were often intense.
From the early meetings of the Governor’s Task Force to the floor
debates in the House and Senate, the work on this measure was difficult
and trying. But
in the end, the result is a new law that strikes a delicate balance between
property rights and Missouri’s continued economic
newly passed law also has provisions that require payments to
property owners for heritage and homestead value that presently no
other state has. Our lawmakers took a common-sense approach to ensure
the abuses that happened in the U.S. Supreme Court's Kelo v. New London
case will never happen in Missouri.
To all those involved
in the process, we extend our sincerest thanks and a well-earned pat
on the back. Thanks for accomplishing this monumental task by passing
and signing into law legislation that other states will now use as
a model. The Show-Me State has indeed shown the rest of the country
how to reform eminent domain.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
more about Missouri new eminent domain law)