Since the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London many states across the country have taken measures to help protect the rights of private ownership. The controversial Kelo decision held that a local government can take the private property of one person and give it to another private entity. While the Court’s ruling was seen by many as a serious blow to citizen’s constitutionally protected rights of private property ownership, the decision prompted a number of states to initiate legislative reform to help curb eminent domain abuse.
The Castle Coalition has released a report, grading each of the states based on their efforts to protect private property owners and their rights based on changes in their respective state laws. The Castle Coalition is the Institute for Justice’s nationwide grassroots property rights activism project that teaches home and small business owners how to protect themselves and stand up to abuse by governments and developers who seek to use eminent domain to take private property for their own gain. Stated below is the letter grade, as given by the Castle Coalition, along with a description of the changes that have occurred since Kelo v. City of New London.
In 2006, the state of Kansas saw a significant amount of positive legislative reform when Senate Bill 323 was signed. The state placed strict regulations on the transfers from a private party to a private entity, stating that only under narrow circumstances and under certain condemning authorities can eminent domain actually occur. Additionally, areas of land can only be deemed blighted if they are positively identified as objectively unsafe. Under Senate Bill 323, local governments and condemning authorities are now under narrow restrictions, distancing property owners from vulnerability.
Kansas has seen significant reform since Kelo v. City of New London, especially in the narrow regulations in which condemning authorities must now abide by. Kansas is well on its way to reform, but could solidify protection for property owners by narrowing the definitions of public use and blight. Click for the full text of Senate Bill 323.