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I believe governments should only use their eminent domain authority as a last resort, but the truth is, it’s a power rampant with abuse and misuse…Texas has a storied history of defending private property rights, and this legislation will preserve that proud tradition by holding government more accountable.” – Senator Charles Schwertner
Eminent domain laws in Texas may receive a slight tweak if recently-filed Senate Bill 479 passes into legislation. Senator Charles Schwertner, R – Georgetown, authored the bill that could more narrowly define “actual progress,” a broad phrase that currently requires those who invoke the power of eminent domain to make “actual progress” toward the intended use of the condemned land within 10 years.
After the 10-year period, the landowner can repurchase the land at the original price paid by the condemning entity. This may prove more difficult than necessary for the landowner as the law currently does not clearly define “actual progress,” and Schwertner hopes his bill will help remedy that ambiguity in an effort to better protect landowners in eminent domain cases.
“I believe governments should only use their eminent domain authority as a last resort, but the truth is, it’s a power rampant with abuse and misuse,” Schwertner said in an announcement of SB 479, according to the Austin Business Journal. “Texas has a storied history of defending private property rights, and this legislation will preserve that proud tradition by holding government more accountable.”
The proposed amendment to 21.101 of the Texas Property Code would define actual progress as including three of the following:
- The “performance of [a] significant” amount of labor on the property or other properties related to the development of the intended project;
- The purchase or obtainment of a “significant” amount of material for the property or other properties required for the public use project;
- The hiring of and/or “significant” work by an architect, engineer, or surveyor for the purpose of developing the property or other properties for the public use project;
- Application of state and/or federal funds for the project for which the property was purchased; or
- Application of a state and/or federal permit to develop the property or other properties related to the public use project.
(Read the proposed bill here). If you have any questions about SB 479 and its potential impact on eminent domain cases in Texas, please feel free to contact Justin Hodge at firstname.lastname@example.org
Coauthored by Justin Hodge and Ayla Syed.