Texas House committee to hear eminent domain bill

By Julie Tomascik

The Texas House Committee on Land and Resource Management will hear SB 421, one of several bills aimed at reforming the eminent domain process, on Thursday, April 24.

The bill, authored by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and Rep. DeWayne Burns, aims to make the eminent domain process more fair and transparent for landowners.

“Private property rights are being abused right now when it comes to eminent domain,” Billy Howe, Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) associate director of Government Affairs, said. “Texas property owners—rural, urban and suburban—deserve better. They need more information upfront about these projects and need fair offers for their property instead of the lowball offers they often receive. They need to be a working partner when a pipeline or transmission line comes through their property.”

The Texas Senate passed SB 421 earlier this month by a 28-3 vote.

“That brings Texans one step closer to meaningful reform, but we still have to get this bill out of the House,” Howe said.

Texas farmers, ranchers and property owners are expected to testify during the House committee hearing on Thursday.

“Private property rights are sacred in Texas, but they’re being abused through the eminent domain process,” Howe said. “Texas Farm Bureau members will be testifying before the committee tomorrow to share their stories of unfairness and stressing the need for reform. It’s time to ensure landowners get a fair deal when they sacrifice their land for the benefit of our state and level the playing field for property owners who are in the path of a proposed easement or who may be in the future as our state grows.”

The bill is supported by Texas Farm Bureau, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Wildlife Association and other agricultural and private property rights organizations.

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