Early in July, Texas lawmakers passed a bill designed to make the process of eminent domain more accessible and transparent for property owners. Eminent domain allows government authorities and utilities to acquire private property for public interest projects like pipelines and roads. Property owners who lose land under eminent domain are supposed to be sufficiently compensated for their losses. But aside from just compensation, they have few protections.
Texas representative Joe Deshotel wrote House Bill 2730 in the hopes of making eminent domain a fairer and more transparent process without undermining the growth of public infrastructure. If passed by the Legislature, the Bill would take effect in 2022. Deshotel’s bill mandates that condemners provide landowners with clear and upfront contract terms as well as straightforward information about their rights under eminent domain. The bill also requires condemners to repair and compensate the owner for any surrounding land they damage during construction. Deshotel believes the bill will give property owners much more leverage in the eminent domain process.
Many property owners in Texas have had first-hand experience with eminent domain. When property owners receive notice of land acquisition, they often find that they have no say in the routing of the pipeline or the use of their property. Many want to see further legislation like Deshotel’s bill that would do more to protect their rights. Hopefully, House Bill 2730 will make future negotiations better for property owners.
Learn more about the eminent domain law in the state of Texas.