10/21/2006

Analysis of proposed ballot question on Amendment 8 - Eminent Domain: Miami FL Herald, 10/17/06

BALLOT WORDING: Proposing an amendment to [Article X, Section 6 of] the State Constitution to prohibit the transfer of private property taken by eminent domain to a natural person or private entity; providing that the Legislature may by general law passed by a three-fifths vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature permit exceptions allowing the transfer of such private property; and providing that this prohibition on the transfer of private property taken by eminent domain is applicable if the petition of taking that initiated the condemnation proceeding was filed on or after January 2, 2007.

WHAT IT MEANS: The measure would prohibit state and local governments from turning over private property acquired by eminent domain to another private entity or person. The amendment, however, allows exceptions to this policy if enacted by a three-fifths vote in the Legislature. Florida already requires that government must have a ''public purpose'' in order to seize property from private individuals. But lawmakers decided this year to change the strengthen the law in the wake of a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing government to take private property and hand it to a private entity for economic development.

PRO: The amendment protects private property rights by making it illegal for government to take property, in the name of economic development, and hand it over to a commercial developer. It makes it clear that government should only use its eminent domain powers for public facilities such as schools or roads.

CON: Some have argued that the amendment is unnecessary because Florida law already places limits on eminent domain takings. The measure has been called a ''knee-jerk'' response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision and will make it harder for communities to redevelop blighted areas.


Miami FL Herald: http://www.miami.com