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Missouri Property Rights

 

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.

Missouri Castle Coalition letter grade of

d

In 2006, the Missouri government adopted House Bill 1944, which provided some change in helping curb eminent domain abuse. The new bill states specifically that private property can’t be condemned “solely” for economic development, which effectively ends private developers from initiating eminent domain proceedings for private developments.

House Bill 1944 also establishes an Office of Ombudsman within the Department of Economic Development to assist property owners who are undergoing the eminent domain process. However, one downfall to the bill is that entire neighborhoods and areas can still be deemed blighted based on vague and subjective language in the bill.

Although the bill allowed for some improvement in concerns to eminent domain, the bill doesn’t undermine condemning authorities and still contains loose language that may be overseen in an eminent domain proceeding.

Summary

Although property owners in the state of Missouri now have protection against private developers, property owners still need to see a significant amount of reform in order to be fully protected. With a condemning authority still able to deem entire neighborhoods blighted, property owners are still vulnerable. If the state tightened the definition of blight, as well as a more compact definition of public use, property owners will be protected against eminent domain abuse. Click to read more about House Bill 1944.

Recent Updates

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced on December 13th, 2010 that three eminent domain ballot initiatives met state standards for circulation. Before any constitutional changes can be brought before Missouri voters as a ballot initiative in the November 2012 election, signatures must be obtained from registered voters equal to 8 percent of the total votes cast in the 2008 governor’s election from six of the state’s nine congressional districts, according to the secretary of state’s office.  Signatures on behalf of all initiative petitions for the 2012 ballot are due to the secretary of state’s office by no later than 5 p.m. on May 6, 2012.

1. Constitutional Amendment to Article I
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to restrict the use of eminent domain by:

• Allowing only government entities to use eminent domain;
• Prohibiting its use for private purposes, with certain exceptions for utilities;
• Requiring that any taking of property be necessary for a public use while continuing to provide just compensation;
• Requiring that the intended public use be declared at the time of the taking;
• Permitting the original owners to repurchase the property if it is not so used within five years or if the property is offered to a private entity within twenty years?

2. Constitutional Amendment to Article I
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to restrict the use of eminent domain by:

• Allowing only government entities to use eminent domain;
• Prohibiting its use for private purposes, with certain exceptions for utilities;
• Requiring that any taking of property be necessary for a public use while continuing to provide just compensation;
• Requiring that the intended public use be declared at the time of the taking;
• Permitting the original owners to repurchase the property if it is not so used within five years or if the property is offered to a private entity within twenty years?

3. Constitutional Amendment to Article VI
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change the power of the General Assembly and constitutionally chartered cities or counties to:

• Prohibit the use of eminent domain to acquire and resell property found to be blighted, substandard or unsanitary for the purpose of clearance, redevelopment or rehabilitation; and
• Allow them to require owners of property found to be a public nuisance to abate or clean up the nuisance and, if the property owner fails to do so in a reasonable time, allow the local government to pay for the abatement and impose a lien to recover the cost?

Ron Calzone, Missouri Citizens for Property Rights, from Dixon, submitted the eminent domain petitions.

 

 

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