Property Rights Advocates React to Eminent Domain Ruling, Texas Puts Issue on Call for Special Session

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“This ruling sets up a horrible situation which was not what our founding fathers intended,” says Dan Byfield, President of American Land Foundation, (ALF), a national non-profit property rights advocate group. Byfield was just one of many property rights advocates to address members of the Texas House Committee on Land and Resource Management on Wednesday, July 5th, just 13 days after the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling in the Kelo v. the City of New London case, which cleared the way for the city to condemn a neighborhood so a private developer could build a multimillion dollar commercial complex.

“This ruling sets up a horrible situation which was not what our founding fathers intended,” says Dan Byfield, President of American Land Foundation, (ALF), a national non-profit property rights advocate group. Byfield was just one of many property rights advocates to address members of the Texas House Committee on Land and Resource Management on Wednesday, July 5th, just 13 days after the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling in the Kelo v. the City of New London case, which cleared the way for the city to condemn a neighborhood so a private developer could build a multimillion dollar commercial complex.

Advocates were at the Capitol to show their support for HJR 19, a bill filed by Rep. Frank Corte that would limit the government’s power of eminent domain. Among the many lawmakers supporting the bill is Rep. Lois W. Kolkhorst who said, “People should own property without living in fear that the government can take it and turn it over to private developers in the name of higher property values.”

Supporters of the bill were rewarded on Friday, when Governor Rick Perry extended the agenda of the special legislative session to include the eminent domain issue. HJR 19 was passed from Committee and is scheduled to be brought to the floor for vote on July 12th. The Senate passed a separate bill, SB 62, by Rep. Kyle Janek which is also expected to be brought to the house floor this week.

The aftershocks from the startling 5-4 decision continue to ripple across the nation as landowners everywhere consider the effects of this reversal of constitutional rights.

“So many people don’t even know what their property rights are,” says Mike Dail, Texas rancher and real estate broker. “They just go along thinking their land is protected by some constitutional amendment, most don’t even know which one, and all the while their rights are being demolished.”

Over the last decade, Dail, who serves as Chairman of the Board for the American Land Foundation, and Byfield, have spent countless hours educating landowners about their property rights and how to protect them. “Just like you have to be hungry to eat,” says Dail, “Americans have to be willing to be educated to listen.” The New London ruling will, no doubt, amplify that hunger as landowners begin to realize its implications.

The recent surge in high profile property rights cases nationwide is a good indicator that Americans are getting fed up and deciding to fight back. Says Dail, “The perception has always been that if the government says it’s so, the landowner has to cede to them.” But thanks to people like Nevada rancher, Wayne Hage, (Hage v. U.S.), who fought back when government agencies took his private property using environmental regulations, Americans are learning to stand up and fight for what is rightfully theirs. Says Hage, “Just because they say they have the right doesn’t mean they do. I tell them to show me the law that gives them that right.”

These and hundreds of other cases involving condemnation, conservation easements, purchase of development rights and the recently released program about the government’s massive Wildlands Project (http://www.takingliberty.us) have captured the attention of landowners everywhere and galvanized the property-rights movement.

LandGuard (http://www.LandGuard.org), a legal plan geared toward protecting property rights and developed by the American Land Foundation has seen enrollment triple in recent months as landowners rally to protect themselves and their property. Says Iowa LandGuard member Merle Wilson, “I’m sure when most people hear that land is being ‘taken’ from private landowners, they assume it is happening in Russia or some Third World country. It may well be happening there, but land theft is happening right here in Iowa and has been for years.”

“We’re (American Land Foundation) getting calls from all over the country,” Byfield says, “From the 80 year old widow in Illinois worried about losing her home to make way for a strip center to young people in Alabama concerned about the family farm.”

This is not a localized problem. Mike Dail and Dan Byfield believe it is a wake-up call for landowners. The American Land Foundation is committed to the protection and preservation of private property, constitutional principles, free enterprise and liberty. For more information about ALF or current property rights issues, visit their website at http://www.amland.us or call 1-800-452-6389.

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