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Eminent domain is most often used to build necessary public infrastructure such as highways, public buildings, airports, etc. That changed last year when the US Supreme Court issued a controversial decision in the case of Kelo v New London. In Kelo, the Court found that it was within the authority of the Fifth Amendment for private property to be taken by the state and be given to another private party if the resultant economic was deemed to be in the best interest of the public. I believe it was a bad decision. So did the Legislature when it slammed the door shut on this decision with legislation more narrowly defining eminent domain in Idaho.
Having argued and lost that argument before the Supreme
Court back in 1994 in Lucas v South Carolina Coastal Council (the Court ruled
that unless a piece of property was made "valueless" by regulation it
was not a taking) and having failed to convince Congress to take up their cause,
takings backers went looking for other ways to force their radical views on the
country. They tried in the state legislatures: I was in Boise lobbying for Idaho
conservation interests when they tried pushing it in 1995. Idaho's reaction was
a good one: all land use decisions must now be reviewed under guidelines written
by the Attorney General to determine whether they constitute a taking and to provide
for redress of grievances if a property owner believes he has been wronged (67-80
et seq Idaho Code). But this still wasn't enough for the Cato Institute
and their backers.
Hiding behind the notoriety of the Kelo decision, Howard Rich has shelled out big bucks to buy "regulatory takings" space on the ballots of several Western states. In Idaho, it was to the tune of $332,050 to pay signature gatherers to qualify Proposition 2 as a voter initiative for this November's ballot.
Proposition 2 is a sham. It has two parts. The first part redundantly addresses Kelo by word-for-word restating the law already passed last session (7-701A I.C.). Word-for-word. It adds or subtracts absolutely nothing from what currently stands as law. What it does provide is a distraction from the real objective in the second part: eliminating all land use laws by defining them as a regulatory taking. If Proposition 2 passes, we will either have to pay a property owner for his perceived loss of value if he doesn't like being told he can't build a [insert your nightmare here] or stop enforcing land use laws. While I would certainly enjoy not ever going to another zoning meeting or public hearing, I'll take that commitment to community discussion and decision-making any day over the chaos that Proposition 2 will bring.
Passage of Proposition 2 will not protect your property rights. It will place all the values of your property, tangible and intangible, at risk. It's not property right, it's property wrong.
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[ This is not a group to debate the merits of a SuperWalmart in Moscow
The intention of the group is to defeat a Super Walmart project. ]
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