Monday, January 7, 2013

The New Virginia Property Rights Amendment

Virginia is not the only state where this is an issue.
  With so much that stinks having passed this year in the United States, I thought I would bring some good legislative news to all of you, for a change.  Virginians, myself included, have been upset concerning recent abuses of eminent domain, which generally occur on the local level.   To me, when a local government wishes to place a road or something they feel constitutes progress and they do so by offering a ridiculously low amount for a property, and then condemning it, causing a family to lose their farm and possibly their life savings, this is concerning.  This had been a problem more and more in our state, particularly in the quasi rural Northwestern counties.  It has also become an issue in Central Virginia.
                 In November 2012, an amendment to the Commonwealth of Virginia's Constitution came up for vote. Virginians voted by a Although it is still possible for the government to take property under eminent domain "for the public good", it needs to meet much tighter guidelines.

1. Privately held Virginia lands cannot be taken unless it is taken for a "legitimate public use."

2. It ensures that only the amount of land which must be taken can be taken.

3. Local governments can no longer take entire farms when only a strip was needed.   They also must pay fair market whereas before they offered a small amount while threatening to condemn it, if the landowner did not agree to the terms.

Urban areas and businesses have also been adversely impacted by abuses of eminent domain.

              Now, county governments who have a Board of Supervisors member who wants to put a gas station somewhere, will no longer be able to take that land for a song, and line his own pockets by opening that station, unless of course, the owner of the property is willing, and sells it to him for this purpose. The landowner will no longer be forced out.   Of course, I don't think eminent domain should be legal at all, and I think the fact that the Farm Bureau and Gov. McDonnell spoke in favor of this bill shows how large a problem this was here.  To me, property rights are fundamental to our rights as Americans. Three quarters of Virginia citizens agreed with me and voted for Virginia Property Rights.  This went into effect here on January 1st, 2013.  This piece of legislation had a seven year journey before it was ratified here.

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