Today, Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, issued the following statement after North Dakota District Court Judge Ralph Erickson issued a preliminary injunction to halt the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule from being implemented in 13 states. It would affect Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Committee to Hold Hearings on Eminent Domain
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture joined Representatives Henry Bonilla (R-TX) and Stephanie Herseth (D-SD) in introducing the Strengthening the Ownership of Private Property (STOPP) Act. This bipartisan legislation was introduced in response to the narrow 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. City of New London, giving local governments broad eminent domain power to seize private property from one party and give it to another. Chairman Goodlatte was pleased to announce that the Committee on Agriculture has been granted primary jurisdiction of this legislation and pledged to hold hearings on the issue in early September.
“This appalling decision strikes a serious blow to the core values of our Nation, and has far reaching implications,” said Chairman Goodlatte. “In defining "public use" so expansively, the Court essentially erased any protection of private property as understood by the Founders of our Nation. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything you have."”
The Supreme Court’s recent ruling gives local governments broad power to seize property to generate tax revenue. State and local governments can now use eminent domain to take away the property of any individual for nearly any reason, including taking property for the benefit of another individual or corporation. Cities can now bulldoze private citizens' homes or seize family farmland to make way for shopping malls or other development, essentially ensuring that no citizen's property is safe.
The STOPP Act will prevent governments from taking property from one private party and giving it to another private party. When abuses occur, the STOPP Act will prevent localities and states from receiving federal economic assistance on all economic development projects, not just those upon which abuses occur. The legislation will also make state and local governments subject to the Uniform Relocation Act, which provides fair market value and moving expenses for citizens relocated by abuses.
“I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing the Strengthening the Ownership of Private Property Act,” continued Chairman Goodlatte. “I am committed to the principles of private property and limited government. I believe this legislation is necessary to ensure that our homes, farms, businesses, churches, and other private property will not be bulldozed in abusive land grabs that only benefit private individuals.”