The push for Eminent domain Reform is underway in the Texas Senate. It remains to be seen what the final bills will look like after they have been considered by the House of Representatives. Charles Schwertner is the State Senator for District Five.
“There’s always been a tension between a state or a public use as defined in our constitution and just compensation and the taking by eminent domain and I passed out of the Senate this session four pieces of eminent domain legislation that are pretty significant pieces of legislation.”
Schwertner says that there were several inequities that needed to be dealt with.
“One is when you have a survey, for instance, you don’t have to be notified that an entity with the power of eminent domain is coming on your land and they can actually do damages and you not necessarily, right now you’re not necessarily due recourse for that and so that bill corrects those two injustices.”
Another bill has to do with roll back taxes.
“When ag use is taken and converted over to a different purpose, if a condemning entity takes it, the actual landowner, prior landowner has to pay those roll back taxes not the condemning entity and so that’s being corrected.”
Right now a condemning entity can take more than they need for the public use and not tell you about it.
“So instead of twenty acres for what they need they can take forty and you think they need all of it but they don’t actually have to delineate that so the bill corrects that and says you have to be given a specific amount that they need for their public use and what they would like but don’t need, so two clear offers for the two tracts of land.”
Currently the law states that if a condemning entity takes your land and doesn’t use it or show actual progress towards that public purpose within ten years they have to sell it back to you for the original purchase price.
“I’m trying to put some stronger teeth in it regarding provisions of actual progress and what it takes to show actual progress.”
The bills have passed the Senate and are now being debated in the House.