Ohio House considers eminent domain

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SALEM, Ohio – Ohio State Rep. Bob Gibbs introduced eminent domain legislation before a skeleton legislative session two weeks ago.
Gibbs, R-Lakeville, stood before a handful of lawmakers Aug. 18 to tell them about his latest legislation, H.B. 331.
Companion. Gibbs’ legislation is a companion to S.B. 167, introduced Aug. 3 by Sens. Timothy Grendell, R-Chesterland, and Kimberly Zurz, D-Green.
Both bills call for a state moratorium on eminent domain seizures through Dec. 31, 2006, and the formation of task force to study the best path for eminent domain in the state.
Forty representatives – on both sides of the aisle – support Gibbs’ bill.
From a farmer. Gibbs still grows crops and previously raised hogs on his Holmes County farm. As a farmer, he has a firm grip on the need for individual personal property rights, according to aide Jason Warner.
“Rep. Gibbs believes the argument for seizure of property through eminent domain to enhance a community’s tax base is appalling,” Warner said.
“Taxes are not paramount to personal property rights.”
Already happening. Warner said the legislature has already heard of a number of governmental bodies trying to seize land for commercial development.
Those takings come in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision saying it’s OK for local governments to take homes or small businesses, no matter their condition or profitability, and turn them over to new or existing companies that can offer bigger tax revenues or job opportunities.
“It’s not fair or right for private property owners to feel vulnerable because of this court ruling,” Grendell said in a news release.
Both pieces of legislation allow eminent domain’s use for roads or public utilities.
Task force. Both pieces of legislation also call for the formation of a 24-member statewide eminent domain task force.
The task force’s job would be to study eminent domain’s effects and land use planning in the state and report their recommendations to the state General Assembly next spring.
Priority. Both Warner and Melissa Kuhn, an aide to Sen. Kimberly Zurz, said the legislation is a priority for their bosses.
Both said they look for hearings on the bills to follow soon after the legislation reconvenes Sept. 13.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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