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Eminent Domain Bill Passes The State Senate

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An oil well pumping next to residential home under construction. (credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

An oil well pumping next to residential home under construction. (credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/KRLD) – Under a new eminent domain bill, just passed in the state senate, your land could be better protected from government takeover.

This isn’t the first year legislators have tried to pass an eminent domain law. Just two years ago, the Senate unanimously approved a similar bill, but it died in the House.

This proposal is trying to do something its predecessors didn’t. Among other things, Senate Bill 18 would allow property owners to buy back their land from the government if, after 10 years, nothing has been done with it.

The bills author, Republican Senator Craig Estes, of Wichita Falls, says it’s not perfect, but it’s the best they’ve got. “Senate Bill 18 would protect landowners from any entity abusing its eminent domain authority.”

But some don’t think the bill goes far enough. Critics say the bill doesn’t do enough to protect landowners from other abuses; like condemning private property for private use.

In January, Governor Rick Perry put property rights/eminent domain on the “emergency list”.

The Texas Legislature meets for 140 days every two years, but during the first 60 days of those sessions, lawmakers are barred from passing legislation. The only way an early vote can take place is if the governor declares it an “emergency item”.

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

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